EHMA AGM: Forward thinking24 August 2012
More than 150 managers of leading deluxe European hotels took stock of the present and explored future paths for the development of hospitality at this year’s EHMA annual general meeting in Vienna. President Peter Bierwirth reports on the four-day event.
Set against the backdrop of the Austrian capital of Vienna and its magnificent palaces, Radisson Blu Palais, Radisson Blu Style and Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof hosted the 39th European Hotel Managers Association (EHMA) annual general meeting (AGM) between 29 March and 1 April 2012.
The efforts of its partners and organising committee, chaired by Verena Forstinger of Radisson Blu Style Vienna and national delegate for Austria and Eastern Europe Kurt Dohnal, ensured a successful event.
Mario Ferraro, general manager of the Hilton Molino Stucky in Venice, received the EHMA European Hotel Manager of the Year 2011 Award during the gala dinner at the Hofburg Imperial Palace. Part of the Hilton family since March 2008, Ferraro was Hilton's European General Manager of the Year 2011. He is now overseeing the opening of Hilton's new flagship Middle Eastern hotel Conrad Hilton Dubai.
The first EHMA Sustainability Award by Diversey - created to highlight the importance of sustainability in the hotel industry - was presented to Veikko Vuoristo, owner and general manager of Haikko Manor & Spa Poorvo Finland, for his preservation of the environment and transformation of the property into a sustainable business.
University and Educational Days
The AGM's University Day was again organised in collaboration with Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), and the University and Education Day programmes involved leading hospitality universities including Glion, Cornell and Stenden.
During University Day talks, IT and hospitality expert Professor Ian Millar stressed the strategic role of new technologies, such as social media, in the future of hôtelerie, while Professor Horatiu Tudori explored the topic of increasing profitability in a difficult financial context in 'The revenue management strategies of tomorrow'.
The Educational Day saw the presence of many eminent speakers. The Leading Hotels of the World president and CEO Ted Teng affirmed that "luxury is never static" and suggested that "in order to see the luxury of the future, look to the fundamentals of luxury in the present and past, and apply the future technologies to these fundamentals". Bill Carroll, senior lecturer at Cornell University, covered the subjects of globalisation, and new challenges and trends across the hotel management industry. "Only those who are able to manage and cope with change will survive, just like Darwin's theory predicted," Carroll concluded.
Finally, Dr Ray Lunius, who is head of alumni and external relations at EHL, led a panel discussion on 'Hotel of the future - between fashion and mega trends: How to navigate to success', before presenting a number of special prizes offered by EHL and Lausanne Hospitality Consulting.
Other speakers who contributed to the success of the business sections were Joi Design founders Peter Joehnk and Corinna Kretschmar-Joehnk, Gregor Jasch of planB Advertising Agency Vienna and Christoph Härle, CEO of continental Europe at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels.
On the morning of 31 March, the assembly officially welcomed 16 new EHMA members, who were present at the meeting for the first time.
Beyond this year's AGM, EHMA is strengthening its ties with European hospitality organisation HOTREC. I have been invited, as president, to present EHMA and its aims, and discuss major professional issues at HOTREC's annual general meeting in Copenhagen this November. Common issues upon which EHMA and HOTREC could join forces include the fight against increasing European bureaucracy and 'mushrooming' regulatory costs.
EHMA is also pleased to collaborate with Golden Key International Alliance, an interactive global network association of hotel activities, properties and services that was represented in Vienna by its Chinese founder and president John Sun Dong, CEO David Wu and European VP Aldo Giacomello. Founded in 2003, it has over 200 members worldwide and its own standards of quality.
The 40th EHMA AGM will be held on 25-28 April 2013 in Milan, Italy.
This article was first published in our sister publication Hotel Management International.