Ahead of the Independent Hotel Show in October, Hotel Designs caught up with the event director Miranda Martin to get her thoughts on this year’s edition…
Hotel Designs: First off, how is everything going with the show planning?
Miranda Martin: We have a simply brilliant team of people here at Independent Hotel HQ. We’re super committed to delivering great experiences for everyone who attends the show. Every detail matters and a huge amount of effort has gone into making this edition remarkable. I’m confident that this year will truly be the best yet. We’re lucky because we’re confined by a finite space in the halls so when the stands sell out we get to focus on making the rest of the show even better.
One of the key tasks for this year was to focus on turning the heat up on design. Our exhibitor list is reflective of the hard work the team have put into researching and discovering brilliant brands to bring value and inspiration to our audience of luxury and boutique hoteliers. And the designed features at the show are the ‘pièce de résistance’. I can’t wait for people to see them.
HD: Could you tell us what familiar features of the Independent Hotel Show guests can expect this year, but also anything new with this year’s edition we can look forward to?
MM: As always, guests can expect a strong line up of speakers revealing trends and practical solutions, together with a fully relevant collection of exhibiting companies showing the latest products and services available for hoteliers today.
New for this year’s event we have introduced ‘The Perfect Hotel Bedroom’ thread in partnership with Chic Retreats. We conducted a consumer survey to help generate answers around what makes the perfect hotel bedroom. And Harriet Forde Design studio is bringing that to life at the show. We propose to bring you ‘The Perfect Hotel Bedroom’ at the Independent Hotel Show. Come tell us what you think!
The Gymnasium for The Mind is a new concept too. Taking on board mindfulness and wellbeing trends as well as the need to mix up the format of the ‘stuff to do’ at the show, we’ve introduced a workshop area where guests will be encouraged to remove shoes and coats, sit on gym balls, and get stuck in; exercising their minds in an unusual format. Workshop topics will include design, artificial intelligence, cyber-crime prevention and spas for men….
HD: What are the key things you hope guests come away with from the show?
MM: The discovery of something they’ve never seen before; connections and relationships that will change their businesses forever; inspiration and motivation to make change and having had a terrific experience.
HD: Just how important are shows like IHS to the industry?
MM: We strive to serve and support independent hoteliers from across the land to help them stay current and deliver unforgettable experiences for their guests whilst optimising profitability and efficiency.
Consumer demand changes at a rapid pace and so must the hotel industry if it wishes to keep up. We offer an annual touch point where hoteliers can network with likeminded people, see the latest products and hear future forecasts and trends. It’s the industry’s show. It’s a great show. It’s a great opportunity. You never know what connections you could make in a face to face environment. Done right, business events of this kind are invaluable.
HD: Thinking about the wider industry, how do you see Brexit affecting the independent/boutique market?
MM: Occupancy reports from this quarter have been hugely positive with an increase in inbound tourism and staycations. I don’t think hoteliers need to fear for a lack of demand
Of course staffing issues will arise but I see this as an opportunity for hoteliers to reimagine their recruitment and training processes, perhaps creating better opportunities in hospitality careers. I think people are going to have to up their game to make their businesses attractive places to work.
Attend our talk ‘Oh! What a Lovely Brexit!’ at the show to find out how Tourism can benefit from a new 21st century ‘Brand Britain’.
HD: And what trends are you seeing coming to the fore in this market?
MM: Mindfulness is everywhere, infiltrating many industries and led ultimately by a widespread consumer interest, hence our introduction of the Gymnasium for the Mind.
People are the priority. In a Brexit landscape, there are natural concerns about our workforce thus there’s a push on recruiting, training and creating an attractive career proposition for domestic staff. The show this year will focus heavily on this in our role of supporting independent hoteliers.
A focus on sustainable and seasonal menus, a continuation of a trend we’ve seen growing every year of the show, with a strong focus on grow-your-own, locally sourced, authentic propositions that are becoming increasingly supplier-led. Brand extensions – clever and strategic partnerships to engage the right type of consumer with your brand and widen your marketing message.
HD: Lastly, what does the future have in store for IHS – is expansion on the horizon?
MM: We have big plans. Not for this small but perfectly formed London edition… watch this space!
17-18 October 2017, Olympia London