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Foreword

News & numbers

A roundup of the most recent happenings across the international hospitality sector.

STR Global

The latest stats on European hotel performance from our associate partners.

EHMA

Industry comment from the president of the European Hotel Managers Association, Ezio Indiani.

Big Interview

As the recently appointed CEO of Kempinski Group, Martin Smura finds himself in charge of one of Europe’s oldest and most storied luxury hotel groups, overseeing 77 five-star hotels and residences in 34 countries around the world. In an exclusive interview, we discuss Smura’s vision for the company over the years ahead, the importance of having a background in frontline hospitality and the challenge of balancing over 120 years’ worth of history with delivering a truly 21st century luxury experience across a global footprint.

Business management & development

We travel to The Biltmore Mayfair for Deloitte’s 31st European Hotel Investment Conference catch up with some of the biggest names in hotel development on the continent, and get the lowdown on who is making deals where – and with whom.

Special report

The demise of Thomas Cook after 178 years of operations has raised questions about the viability of the organised travel business and, in particular, the future of the package holiday. Is this concept still relevant as travellers become ever more comfortable booking every facet of their holiday themselves, or might it be ripe for reinvention in the digital age? We speak to Sebastian Ebel of TUI, Scott Dunn founder Andrew Dunn, and James Bell of The Turquoise Holiday Company.

Operations

Anybody feeling bullish about the long-term sustained growth prospects of the European hotel market are likely banking on the sharp rise in Chinese guests. In 2015, just 4% of Chinese nationals held passports, but, by 2025, the total number is expected to stand at 150 million. Attracting and catering to this emergent demographic poses unique challenges, however. IHG’s Nelum Gunewardane, Kurt Grötsch, CEO of Chinese Friendly International, and Accor’s Franck Gervais discuss the potential operational pitfalls and opportunities.

Spa & wellness

In a year that has again seen record profits in the spa and wellness space, as well as the continued growth of entire hotel brands centred on these concepts, what have been the notable spa trends of 2019 and, even more importantly, what can we expect to see in 2020? Doyenne of the wellness space and ESPA founder Susan Harmsworth, who stepped away from the company earlier this year, talks us through what we should be looking out for.

Guest amenities

From the banning of single-use plastics to the provision of bulk size, refillable amenities, 2019 felt like the year that operators began to deliver on longstanding environmental commitments at a micro and macro level, recognising the business, as well as the ethical benefits of taking serious, seismic action. Have we seen a genuine tonal shift? How long will these commitments take to become fully established across global footprints? And where might we see further pressure from guests for systemic industry behavioural change in 2020? Environmental and CSR leaders, including Marriott International’s Hemma Varma and Catherine Dolton of IHG, discuss.

Design

In the age of the global nomad, small lifestyle concepts and big global players are making moves to try and harness the potential of co-working within their portfolios, but what impact is that having on which public spaces are conceived and designed? We speak to CitizenM’s Michael Levie, Stephane Bensimon, CEO of the Accor-backed WOJO, and star designer Matteo Thun to find out.

Creating al fresco, pan-seasonal spaces within urban hotels can be a huge difference-maker when it comes to attracting both repeat guests and local clientele, as well as supplying an entirely new area of revenue generation. We speak to some of the designers and operators who have taken up this challenge and created a selection of iconic outdoor destinations, including Alexander Waterworth, Foster + Partners, and Hirsch Bedner Associates.

How is sustainable design informing the manner in which hotels are being both constructed and refurbished and what role must environmental concerns play in driving one’s original concept through to completion? These were just some of the questions posed during an exclusive round table discussion hosted by Hotel Management International. We hear the thoughts of an array of hospitality leaders, including PJ Gilbert of Kempinski, architect Dexter Moren, and Aermont MD Giovanni Manfredi.

Food & Beverage

After four decades in the business, Chef Thomas Keller has emerged as one of the biggest names in global hospitality, garnering Michelin stars, a gold medal in the Bocuse d’Or, recognition as a chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, and a legion of acolytes and imitators. Despite all this success, he tells us why his love for the profession and a sense of duty mean it will be some time before he hangs up the apron.

How does one ensure the kitchen remains flexible enough for continual adaptation, how much overhaul should a new brigade realistically require in terms of equipment and who should take ultimate control of kitchen design? We hear from Frank Wagner, chair of FCSI Germany-Austria, superstar chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton, and Sascha Triemer, VP of F&B at Atlantis The Palm.

Ahead of the 94th iteration of Internoga in March, we travel to Hamburg to meet the individuals and experts behind the conference programme and discuss culinary trends, emerging talents and what to look out for over the coming year.

Technology

From revenue management to harnessing big data, we are forever being told how AI and machine learning are poised to transform the manner in which back office processes are delivered and managed. Less, however, is said about what these new capabilities might mean in terms of guest-facing tech and front of house services. From chatbots to anticipatory algorithms, we look at these impacts and more, with Hilton’s Chris Silcock and Hyatt’s Julia Vander Ploeg.

Leaders from Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG), a global non-profit trade association serving hotel companies and technology providers, provide their exclusive thoughts on current trends and developments set to impact the hospitality sector in the immediate future.

The Insider

Giles Fuchs, owner of the luxury 1920s iconic hotel Burgh Island, once a favourite haunt of Agatha Christie.



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