The Independent Hotel Show, presented by RateGain, returned to Olympia West on 20th and 21st October 2015 for the busiest two days of networking, innovation and inspiration since the show opened in 2012. A key highlight of the boutique hospitality calendar, the Independent Hotel Show is positioned as an influential gathering of hotel owners and hotel industry experts within the independent and luxury sector.

Attracting over 5500 visitors, in excess of 2700 seminar and business session attendees, over 280 exhibitors, 100s of new business contacts, over 100 leading hotel industry contributors and speakers, more than 20 thought-provoking panel discussions and business sessions, eight thought leadership Think Tank discussions and two acclaimed hotel and hotelier award winners – the event can only be described a successful on all fronts.

The Independent Hotel Show has, in a relatively short space of time, developed into an unmissable event for a growing number independent hoteliers who are looking for practical advice and suppliers to help grow their business, or to establish it in the first place. Now in its fourth year, the Independent Hotel Show is established as a must-attend event for luxury and boutique hoteliers looking to grow and develop their business. A one-stop-shop of quality products and services, the event prides itself on offering a stellar line up of industry experts to tackle, discuss and digest key issues within the sector, predict trends and advise on best practice.

Key highlights of this year’s show included a popular and packed seminar schedule offering expert opinion and tangible solutions to help independent hoteliers drive their business forward and boost profits.

Kicking off proceedings at the Business Theatre, James Parsons, head of business development at STR Global, presented an overview of the booming UK hotel market and the growth potential for independent hoteliers in London and across the regions. Other key speakers at the show included Fiona Duncan of the Telegraph, Andrew Grahame of Farncombe Estate, Robert Nadler of Nadler Hotels and James Lohan of Mr and Mrs Smith, as well as successful celebrity chefs and TV presenters, Rick Stein and Brian Turner.

Two new editions to this year’s show were the Independent Think Tank and Destination Spa Talks. Providing a more targeted area for thought leadership and exploration into the profit making potential of the world of wellness, the areas enhanced the show’s strong editorial content, inviting key speakers, innovators and trend analysts to spark debate and discussion.

Long-time supporter of the Independent Hotel Show Jonathan Raggett, managing director of Red Carnation Hotels and chairman of the Master Innholders, was delighted to take part in the seminar stage again this year. He says: “The show provides excellent face-to-face opportunities for knowledge sharing which is vital for professional development for all levels. Ideas are key to growth so taking the time to leave your hotel and meet both fellow hoteliers and new suppliers is time well spent.”

Showcasing a handpicked range of luxury goods and services aimed at the boutique and independent hotelier, the Independent Hotel Show is known for featuring the cream of the crop. Exhibitor categories include interior design, technology and software, audio and entertainment and health and wellness.

Noel Riley, marketing director at Hansgrohe, key supporters of the Independent Hotel Show and sponsors of the ‘Guest Lounge’ says: “We came to the show last year and were excited by the leads simply attending created. This year, we decided to invest in space for conversations. What a great decision that has been. We’ve been able to talk in depth to customers - on our stand and in the Hansgrohe VIP Lounge - about our history of innovation and technology, showcase new products and finishes as well as our Axor design vision, including Axor One, our collaboration with British designers, Barber and Osgeby.”

Campbell Thompson, buying and merchandising director at And So To Bed says: “We visited last year and were extremely impressed by the calibre of the visitors and enquiries and so have been delighted to be an exhibitor again this year. Just like ‘And So To Bed’, the show’s eclectic, premium style appeals to the varying needs of the independent, luxury and boutique hotelier.”

Russel Langham, company director of fine furniture makers, REH Kennedy Ltd says: “It is fantastic to be here at the show for a fourth, consecutive year. The show is the only dedicated event for the independent, luxury and boutique hotel sector and we’re inspired every year by the wealth and variety of projects that visitors to the show are commissioning for.”

Pivotal to the show are the awards, which celebrate inspirational leaders within the industry and culminate in an awards ceremony on the first evening of the show. Presented by Alison Dolan, deputy MD of Sky Business, who were sponsors this year, and Peter Hancock, CEO of Pride of Britain Hotels, the awards provide recognition to the country’s key hoteliers and hotels from their esteemed peers and hospitality sector experts.

The eldest daughter of Lord Charles Forte, Olga Polizzi was crowned Independent Hotelier, celebrating her extended involvement within the luxury hotel sector and encompassing her role as design director of Rocco Forte Hotels. Meanwhile new kid on the block, Gotham Hotel beat stiff competition to achieve Outstanding New Independent Hotel status.

Commenting on the awards, Alison Dolan says: “These awards represent the best hotel operators in the Independent sector and we are very proud to be associated with them. They are hugely important to the sector because they provide great recognition and validation to hoteliers who put so much work into making their hotels a truly unique and wonderful place to stay.”

Central to the exhibition area was The Hub, a networking focal point designed by Daniel Bryan-Harris and Amal Yusuf of award-winning architecture and interior design practice, Jestico + Whiles. With a brief to create a space that visually pushed the boundaries of interior design, sparked debate and offered an inspiring yet functional place to conduct business, the pair’s whimsical nod to the British obsession with weather produced an eye-catching display featuring suspended umbrella chandeliers and rain projections to offer a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the show.

With dates set for 2016 (Independent Hotel Show 2016: 18th and 19th October) and over 60% of companies already rebooked to exhibit again next year, show organisers now turn their attention to their sister exhibition within the dynamic and bourgeoning hospitality sector: PUB16.

Taking place at Olympia on 9th and 10th February 2016, PUB16 is the only show dedicated to the UK’s innovative and acclaimed pub industry. Following the same winning formula as the Independent Hotel Show, PUB16 will showcase premium products, business sessions and seminars targeted at the modern day publican and multiple operator who wishes to raise the bar of their business.

Tim James, Vice President, sales at RateGain, headline sponsors of the Independent Hotel Show, says: “We participated in the show for the first time this year because we have launched new products which are suited to the independent hotelier; this show was the ideal way to promote RateGain to this market. The visitors to the show included hotel owners, directors, GMs, revenue managers as well as consultants to the industry so it was great for us to meet them. We were also delighted to have the RateGain logo everywhere as title sponsor.”

Miranda Martin, event manager at the Independent Hotel Show, says: “The Independent Hotel Show has enjoyed tremendous success for the fourth year, building on its reputation as the event for the independent and boutique hotelier. The feedback we’ve received has praised the quality and breadth of exhibitors, speakers and business sessions, while not forgetting the networking opportunities associated with the show.”

“This is a vibrant industry to be associated with and we’re delighted that so many key players see the Independent Hotel Show as integral to their business. Huge thanks to all of our exhibitors and key supporters. We look forward to welcoming the sector again next year.”

Whether an experienced hand or a complete newbie, the Independent Hotel Show provides answers and inspiration in equal measure – make sure next October 18th and 19th is earmarked in your diary.