This year’s EHMA Annual General Meeting (AGM), which took place from 25-28 April, was organised by a committee comprising some of the most renowned managers of Milanese hospitality, including: Ezio Indiani, general manager of the Hotel Principe di Savoia and chairman of the organising committee; Alessandra Bragoli, AtahotelExpofiera; Francesco Brunetti, The Westin Palace Milan; Antonio Cailotto, Grand Hotel et de Milan; and Damiano De Crescenzo, Planetaria Hotels.

Business highlights

At this year’s meeting, 17 new EHMA members were officially welcomed by the assembly, three of which were the lucky winners of the three Professional Development Program courses offered by Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

It was a very challenging meeting, since the assembly was asked to vote on important statute amendment proposals, which were approved by the majority of the members, and for the association’s new president and vice-presidents for the next term of office from 2013-15.

EHMA also strengthened its ties with its partner associations. Kent Nyström, president of Hotrec, the umbrella association of European hotels, restaurants and cafes, informed the members about the latest issues and its work in Brussels, while the Golden Key International Alliance was represented by its CEO John Sun Dong, managing director David Wu and European VP Aldo Giacomello, as well as by two general managers from China. The alliance provides its members with a wide, interactive platform of cooperation and assistance, and an efficient network in China and internationally.

The success of EHMA events depends on its supporting partners, which enable the association to provide a high-calibre programme of formal and informal events. As well as discussing issues affecting the luxury hospitality industry, the three-day meeting allowed EHMA members to socialise and enjoy Milan’s many delights.

Time to educate

Friday’s Educational Day saw the presence of prominent speakers who enlivened the confrontation on the concept of ‘Reinventing the luxury hotel’, the main theme of the AGM. The association was proud to welcome Christopher Cowdray, CEO of Dorchester Collection, who underlined that approximately 50% of worldwide sales today are represented by luxury goods.

Traditional, innovative, adventurous, trendy, unselfish, experiential, seductive, extravagant, sustainable and exclusive; just some of the facets of luxury, according to Adam Tihany, international designer in the hospitality world. Michael Sturman, associate professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, explained how brand equity and human capital are two of a firm’s most critical intangible assets.

The importance of technology was underlined by Kent Nyström, while Nick van Marken, global head – hospitality, Deloitte LLP, spoke about the new trend in luxury hotels, emphasising the importance of being able to understand customers’ needs, which can no longer be easily identified by their clothing or behaviour.

This is a complex challenge in which two icons of Made in Italy have excelled: Brunello Cucinelli and Ferrari. Mario Almondo, Ferrari’s production processes senior VP, who remarked that in the present dynamic and complex socio-economic picture, brands should concentrate on inspiring and evoking emotions, paying special attention to sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Based on professional in-depth research, the panel discussion ‘Reinventing the luxury hotel,’ led by Dr Ray Iunius of École Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), made a valuable contribution to the Educational Day.

The University Day events were organised in collaboration with EHL and consisted of several talks. Professor Samad Laaroussi and Dr Peter Agel of Micros gave an overview of current consumer trends and the impact of digital marketing on the hospitality industry, while Professor Yateendra Sinh spoke about ‘Re-inventing the luxury hotel manager’.

What’s next?

The presentation by the Monegasque Organising Committee looked forward to the next two EHMA AGMs: 2014’s meeting in Monaco from 28-30 March, and the 2015 event in Geneva, Switzerland.

For more details about this year’s AGM, visit, and for regular updates on future events,