This year’s first Hospitality, Leadership & Design Conference hosted more than 120 guests and 24 leaders in the field of hospitality and design at Rosewood London to swap intelligence and inspiration about where the travel industry is heading after an unprecedented year of change.

The event was the first in a five-part series which will see industry innovators from around the world share ideas in Dubai, Singapore, New York and Los Angeles."

As Event Director, Can Faik said: "Today’s conference clearly shows there is a demand for live events while ensuring that they can be delivered in a safe and secure environment.

With participants from internationally-renowned hotel brands and design studios, several key trends and themes emerged from the London conference: 

New Openings: 

Discussing sector growth, it emerged that China, US and Saudi lead the market for luxury openings, while London, Istanbul and Tel Aviv are development hotspots. Accor and SH Hotels & Resorts also revealed that Spain, Italy and Portugal are major growth areas for their brands. 

We are living in a two-tier world in terms of hotel occupancy; China the US and Middle East are racing ahead, Latin America, Africa and Europe are lagging behind - Thomas Emanuel, director, STR 

New hotels are not always taking up new spaces: as local authorities the world over tighten building regulations, many of these properties are optimising existing buildings and choosing to build on the character that these provide. Hyatt, as one example, is taking on 50 per cent franchises and 50 per cent independent hotels. 

Evolving Spaces and Facilities: 

Hotels are adapting to the new consumer need. Adaptable, hybrid spaces are key; hotels are looking to boost the use of areas such as lobbies, terraces and outdoor areas – as well as the ability to add and remove interconnecting rooms to provide more space and privacy for guests as needed.  

As work and leisure trips are combined, hotels geared towards MICE and business markets would benefit from providing facilities for families. Hilton noted that they plan to double their lifestyle hotels globally in the next five years in response to increased leisure demand. 

Whilst also preparing to welcome back international markets, it has become clear that hotels can no longer rely on global tourism. As regional travel booms, improving and optimising facilities such as hotel spas enable properties to tap into the shoulder market at the beginning and end of seasons, giving people a reason to visit and spend closer to home. 

Hospitality Design: 

Opulence has been replaced by experience and a strong sense of place: hotels that hire local designers, crafts people, chefs and baristas provides a more authentic experience that connects with both guests and community. 

As people favour space and the outdoors, biophilic design is on the increase - both introducing nature into the design and utilising outdoor space as much as possible. Beige is out: colour and pattern that create a sense of occasion are in.  

The Renaissance of Aparthotels:

Travel has become leisure rather than business-driven, and demand for luxury aparthotels offering long and short stays with high levels of personalisation is rising. 

We will travel less and for longer, combining work and leisure. Private rentals need flexibility, space and access to services underpinned by tech. - Naomi Heaton, founder and CEO of The Other House, opening in South Kensington 2022 and Covent Garden in 2023. 

A new lifestyle hospitality brand, each Other House (otherhouse.com) property offers around 200 ‘club flats’ with living, sleeping and kitchen areas designed by award-winning Bergman interiors. (bergmaninteriors.com)

Commenting on this market shift, Stephen McCall, CEO of Edyn explained: "You can sell an apartment for one night but you can’t sell a hotel room for three months." Its design-led aparthotel brand Locke opened four new sites in London Munich and Dublin in 2020. Locke Cambridge and Munich open in Autumn 2021, with Lisbon and Berlin to follow. (www.lockeliving.com)

This autumn The Langham opens a second residence in a former palace in Germany. It follows the success of the 2020 opening of The Langham Residence Nymphenburg, located within a 490-acre imperial palace, just 15 minutes from the city centre and giving new meaning to ‘living like a king’. (Langhamresidences.com)

Jumeirah also noted that they are planning 23 openings in 8 countries over the next three years - a portion of which will have a residential aspect. 

Our guests want to feel at home away from home. The challenge is that they often have multiple homes and are way ahead in terms of taste than hotels are. - Aaron Kaupp, Jumeirah regional vice president, Northern Europe and General Manger

Sustainability 

The move towards more responsible travel is gathering pace. Increasingly, luxury travellers make travel decisions based on a hotel’s eco-agenda, while corporate bookings are considering their environmental accountability and more frequently demanding LED certification from the properties they are staying at. 

Hygiene protocols present a fresh challenge: the common goal of eliminating single-use plastics was making headway until the pandemic. Innovation in this space will be necessary and its development interesting to see. 

Whilst new properties are using green credentials as a foundation, big brands are also taking note: Accor group – which owns 5,000 hotels and 10,000 restaurants – has a board member responsible for sustainability, while Jumeirah is looking at a new green charter. 

Hospitality Staffing Crisis

According to Filip Boyen, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide, there are approximately 56 staff vacancies in every luxury hotel in London.

Panellists discussed what can be done about this, stating that the idea that the hospitality sector is a culture of long hours, poor pay and little job security needs to be de-mythologised and that there needs to be an investment in training and career development. 

People working 16 hours a day is a thing of the past. - Josh Littman VP of SH Hotels & Resorts

We need to make the business more attractive, to train young people in the culture of hospitality. I spent my career believing it’s a privilege and an honour to be a host. - MPS Puri, hospitality consultant to hotel groups from Raffles to the Ritz Carlton 

About Hospitality, Leadership & Design Conference

A series of one-day networking events, Hospitality, Leadership & Design Conference brings together the industry’s leading owners, hotel brands designers and suppliers. Insight, intelligence and ideas are shared in lively panel discussions and first-class networking sessions. Future editions are scheduled for Dubai, Singapore, Los Angeles and New York making the event an unheralded new platform for the hospitality and hotel sector. 

Forthcoming event dates: 

  • Dubai, 8th September 
  • Singapore, 15th September
  • Los Angeles, 13th October 
  • New York, 11th November

https://www.hldc.co.uk/