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Hospitality

Editor Checks In: The hospitality industry fights back

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Editor Checks In: The hospitality industry fights back

In his monthly column, editor Hamish Kilburn, like others, is self-isolating. He is reflecting on where it all went wrong – and, crucially, how we can make it right again for the hospitality industry. In the eye of the COVID–19 storm, which will pass, he finds himself praising the hospitality industry for showing compassion and versatility in uncertain times…

It’s amazing – and equally devastating – to witness just how quickly things can change on the international hospitality scene. Just a few weeks ago, I was on stage at HRC in London presenting to a crowded audience how, because of new technology and the evolutions of social media, competition is no longer just on a hotel’s doorstep. And here I am, writing my monthly Editor’s Letter, as the United Kingdom, like other countries around the world, is in lockdown following the Pandemic outbreak of COVID-19. The doors into nations are firmly closed, social distancing guidelines have been set and new measures are being put into action in order to slow down the spread of the virus.

“Mother nature has simply had enough – she has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we have done.”

Meanwhile, face-to-face interactions, which have been a key element for our socially driven industry since the dawn of time, are restricted, and we are all well and truly on our knees. Major events such as Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam, Clerkenwell Design Week, Salone del Mobile in Milan and Hotel Summit were all compelled to postpone when the outbreak became a pandemic. Even the Olympics, the largest sporting event on the planet, is stuck in the traffic jam of uncertainty and will not make it time for 2020.

Mother nature has simply had enough – she has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we have done ­– and it’s time to reflect on how we can respond to the global catastrophe.

Lessons for the wellbeing of earth can surely be learned from this. In just days of the countries closing their borders and going into lockdown, both China and Italy recorded major declines in nitrogen dioxide – a serious air pollutant and powerful warming chemical – as a direct result of reducing industrial activity and car journeys.

Elsewhere, locals in Venice noticed a significant improvement in the water quality of the iconic canals that flow through through the city as the area was cleared of tourists.

With millions of people now in isolation around the world, social media and technology is playing a leading role in order to help people interact, entertain and be kept informed of news as well as vital government instructions.

“In times of crisis, we become stronger than we thought we were.”

Neighbours have united once more, with residents seen singing and applauding health workers from balconies. As I type, my best friend, who owns her own tattoo studio, is currently delivering vital medicine to the sick and elderly in and around her community in the wake of having to temporarily close down her local business. In times of crisis, we become stronger than we thought we were.

The selfless acts of kindness don’t end there. The hospitality industry, despite being one of the most affected in this crisis, is fighting hard to prevent the spread of COVID–19, and I am totally overwhelmed with pride to see how adaptable our market is. One by one, hotel chains, brands and boutique independents are unveiling how they innovatively plan to help fight the invisible enemy of COVID-19.

The last few weeks have raised a lot of questions about the future design of hotels: should we encourage guests to gather in public spaces, should we introduce working-from-home measures and is touchless technology the way forward? As things are changing day-by-day as we are all told to #stayhome, this will no-doubt make us think deeper about how we can meaningfully design and open better social spaces for all.

To be honest, I am at a loss for words, which, for anyone who knows me, is really saying something. I cannot predict what happens next, but from all of us at Hotel Designs HQ, we wish for you all to remain safe during this unpredictable period. And remember, storms don’t last forever. If it’s any consolation, the whole world is going to need a holiday when all this is over.

Feel free to keep in touch with our team on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, and let us all distribute the weight of this disruption evenly, because we are all in this fight together.

Editor, Hotel Designs

How the hospitality industry is responding to COVID–19 pandemic

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
How the hospitality industry is responding to COVID–19 pandemic

As the world settles in to the realities of lockdown, editor Hamish Kilburn has noticed a number of hospitality brands going above and beyond to help prevent the spread of COVID–19…

The industry may be on its knees financially, with hotels having to remain shut following the outbreak of COVID–19, but the spirit of hospitality around the world has arguably never been stronger.

With borders to nations closed, and new measures being put in place to further extend social distancing, the tourism and hospitality industries have suffered most – hotels, restaurants and other venues have had to temporarily lock their businesses down.

In this time, however, the true spirit of hospitality has led to hotels and hotel chains to do amazing things. Here are just some of the ways in which the hospitality industry is selflessly helping to prevent the spread of COVID–19.

Offering free rooms to the NHS

Image credit: Stock Exchange Hotel

One of the first in the hospitality sector to offer its help, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs announced that they were temporarily closing their two Manchester-based hotels in order to offer their rooms to the NHS for free. Hotel Football and Stock Exchange Hotel, which will shelter MEET UP North on July 6, have started a trend for other hotels, brands and chains to follow on from.

“The company is working with its team to put a package in place for all staff members for the months ahead, following which the hope is that things would have returned to normal,” they said in a statement. “While health and safety remain the company’s primarily concern the economic situation of each individual team member is also being given utmost priority.”

Lighting up communities with symbols of hope, and offering rooms to the homeless

The meaningful plot thickens daily with the IHG. Firstly, the major hotel group reacted amplified a statement of hope by lighting up many of its empty rooms with signs of love as the world faces prospect of lockdown. In addition, the group then announced that it was going to waive cancellation feels until the end of April. Most recently, though, the hotel group is working with the Mayor of London and the government to offer 300 of its hotel rooms to the homeless to self-isolate during the COVID–19 crisis.

Transforming hotels into hospitals

Following the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK, major hotel chains are in discussions with the government about transforming their properties into temporary NHS hospitals, The Guardian reports. Best Western, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Travelodge and Whitbread’s Premier Inn chain are among the operators discussing  the logistics of closing their hotels to the public so that spaces can be given to vulnerable groups who are at a heightened risk of contracting the virus in the coming months.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, ILUNION Hotels has placed its hotel chain at the disposal of the Community of Madrid’s political and health authorities to take in patients across its three Madrid properties with mild cases of coronavirus, who need to isolate themselves during the coming weeks and cannot do so in their own homes. ILUNION believes that “at this time society needs every institution and company to rise to the occasion.” Moreover, ILUNION Hotels are planning on presenting the same proposal to other regions across Spain, offering a safe place for patients to spend their isolation, without putting friends and family at risk.

Donations of food and space

In order to help local communities to battle through the coronavirus crisis, brands and hotels such as Handpicked Hotels, Michel Reybier Hospitality, Ocean House and Bespoke Hotels have also welcomed in the community by donating food and offering safe spaces for the elderly as the outbreak of COVID–19 progresses.

Ocean House in Rhode Island has said it will deploy its Ocean House Management Food Truck, which will go to the same place three times a week, until April 3.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, Bespoke Hotels’ Cotswolds House, The Lyndene Hotel, Oddfellows Chester, Branston Hall Hotel, Green Dragon on Herford and Ennerdale Hotel are all offering food bans and/or afternoon teas for local care homes. “Given the current circumstances, we cannot let our food and beverage go to waste without helping those in need”, commented Robin Sheppard, CEO of Bespoke Hotels. “We have an active community and local charities in each region – we must work together and be kind to one another during these unprecedented times.”

Please email Hamish Kilburn, or tweet us @HotelDesigns, if you have a story you would like us to share about a hotel or brand that is doing something incredible in order to help fight the spread of COVID–19.

Main image credit: Pixabay

Talks for hotels to be turned into temporary hospitals

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Talks for hotels to be turned into temporary hospitals

Hotels are in logistic talks with the Government about giving up empty hotel rooms to vulnerable groups or medical professions…

The hospitality industry has proved time and time again that it is both adaptable and resilient. Following the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK, major hotel chains are in discussions with the Government about transforming their properties into temporary NHS hospitals, The Guardian reports.

Best Western, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Travelodge and Whitbread’s Premier Inn chain are among the operators discussing  the logistics of closing their hotels to the public so that spaces can be given to vulnerable groups who are at a heightened risk of contracting the virus in the coming months.

The brand Best Western’s first hotel to be turned into a hospital support site is reported to open in south London next week, with every guestroom used to house lower-risk patients and NHS staff.

With 270 properties, Best Western is the largest independent hotel chain in the UK. Although details of the location of the first hotel to open next week are still confidential, The Guardian reported that a Best Western spokesman said: “However we are in conversations with a number of NHS hospitals and local authorities around the country to see if we can do something similar for them, to help provide accommodation for NHS staff, care workers, lower-risk patients and vulnerable people at this time, such as elderly and homeless people.”

The news comes after Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester, which will host MEET UP North on July 6, opened it’s doors free of charge to health workers, freeing 176 beds for NHS employees and other medical staff. Meanwhile, IHG lit up its empty hotel rooms to display a symbol of love for locals in lockdown.

This is just the latest development on the UK hospitality scene as hotels around the country remain empty, while operators are thinking of resourceful ways to help the community, which after all is what true hospitality looks like.

Main image: Pixabay

Petition for Government to support UK hospitality industry

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Petition for Government to support UK hospitality industry

A petition has appeared online to call the government to support the UK’s hospitality industry through the Coronavirus crisis…

The hospitality industry, the third largest industry in the UK, is calling the Government for support as the Coronavirus crisis continues to affect individuals and businesses.

The petition, which can be signed here, states that the petition has been set up in the wake of the Government’s “total lack of responsibility” for the hospitality industry regarding the knock-on effects from the COVID-19 outbreak on individuals and businesses operating in the sector.

You can support the campaign and sign the petition here. 

It asking for a review of the following:

  • A clear support – financial and practical – laid out by the government for both staff and business owners alike
  • A decision from the government – because if we take the decision to close any form of insurance is no longer an option
  • Clarity for guests to ensure their safety
  • Transparency on timeline so businesses can prepare logistically and rationally for times ahead

Main image credit: Pixabay

INDUSTRY INSIGHT: How guest behaviour is changing hotel design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
INDUSTRY INSIGHT: How guest behaviour is changing hotel design

To understand how important it is to react to changing guest behaviour, Paisley Hansen identifies some of the drivers that have significantly evolved the hotel experience globally…

Hotel design has evolved in the past decade. With the rise of technology and growing social awareness, designs need to incorporate new ideas and reflect the growing aesthetic demands of both the traveller and the hotel operator.

Following on from identifying interior design trends that are expected to shine this year, as well as hospitality trends that are emerging, here are some of the consumer catalysts that are dictating the future design of hotels everywhere.

Making a Reservations – there’s an app for that

From apps to websites, technology is transforming how customers are selecting their hotels. To understand how this trend will develop, take the time to research which are the best apps are being used to book hotels. Customers are looking for the best deal as well as hotels that offer more than just a simple room. “Instagrammable” hotels pull in a younger crowd, while those offering seclusion and privacy attracts a different demographic. Paying attention to how your consumers are utilising technology and social media will help create an innovative hotel design to attract more guests.

Redesigned check-in areas

In 2020, lobby design trends are expected to evolve to reflect the changing needs of the customer. The traditional check-in counter is disappearing in favour of residential-like lounges that incorporate exciting interior design ideas to welcome guests. Hotels are including simplified check-in spaces that offer perks to add a touch of luxury to the process. The use of bold colours and patterns are creating a welcoming dichotomy of hues and textures. These changes all come in to create a check-in experience that relies less on the traditional service and more on creating a relaxed atmosphere as guests transition in and out of the hotel.

image of child reaching out to touch arm of robot

Image credit: YOTEL

Interacting in a personalised guestroom

Smart technology is taking its place in hotel rooms. From finding ways to incorporate streaming TV services to smart controls, hotels need to innovate how guests are interacting with their room environment. Hotels that fail to modernise will feel the impact in the years to come. Outside of technology, the most important part of any hotel room is the bed. If the history of beds tells us anything, comfort and design will win out in the years to come. Creating an environment where guests can enjoy control over their room while relaxing will lead the way in room layout. Comfort and innovation need to be at the forefront of any design plans.

modern guestroom

Image credit: Freepik

Creating unique, one-off experiences

Travellers are looking for new ways to capitalise on their time away with experiences. Hotels can embrace this trend by utilising personalised services with artificial intelligence to help build customer profiles allowing for a more personal touch to each interaction. In the more general sense, hotels can look into providing a local experience via a tour or introducing local culture to the hotel design and/or menu. By incorporating local themes into the hotel design, hotels can provide a regional experience for guests without ever leaving the hotel. Hotels cannot afford to miss out on capitalising on this trend.

Taking care of mother nature

By including local features into the design, hotels can take advantage of one of the biggest trends of the year: increased ecological awareness. The environmental impact of tourism is weighing heavily on the minds of tourists as they travel. Guests are moving away from wasteful spaces, and hotels that embrace green policies are seeing an influx of customers. Hotels are finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Customers can expect to see more of this as hotels reduce using single-use plastics and implement systems to decrease water usage across the board. Another aspect of this will be the incorporation of sustainable design, this includes sourcing local materials and putting energy management and reduced carbon emission plans in the design.

Main image credit: mrsiraphol/Freepik

Hotel Designs’ premium events to bookmark for Q1 of 2020

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Designs’ premium events to bookmark for Q1 of 2020

As the industry reflects on a busy year, Hotel Designs breaks down some of its key events to attend in Q1 of 2020…

For years, Hotel Designs has been part of a bigger show. Working with its parent company, Forum Events, the media outlet has worked to create and manage authentic, relevant and meaningful networking and meet-the-buyer events for the hotel design and hospitality industry. Before we wrap up 2019, here are some events to bookmark in Q1 next year.

Hospitality Tech & Innovation
Date: January 27, 2020
Venue: Hilton London Canary Wharf

Hospitality Tech & Innovation is a highly focused event that brings together hospitality professionals and suppliers. The Forum consists of one-to-one business meetings, interactive seminars and valuable networking opportunities throughout – all to enable attendees to create lasting business relationships.

Supplier contact: Toby Ward (Email: t.ward@forumevents.co.uk | Phone: 07930 402303)
Delegate contacts: Email: e.gallagher@forumevents.co.uk or l.gulisano@forumevnets.co.uk (Phone: 01992 37485/94

Catering Equipment & Services Forum
Date: March 30 – 31, 2020
Venue: Whittlebury Park, Northampton

In response to the drastic evolution of F&B areas in hotels and hospitality, Catering Equipment & Services Forum is designed to bridge the gap between hospitality catering professionals and key -industry suppliers. The two-day events includes pre-arranged business meetings, interactive seminars and valuable networking opportunities throughout.

Delegate & Supplier contacts: Toby Ward (Email: t.ward@forumevents.co.uk | Phone: 07930 402303) and Haydn Boxall (Email: h.boxhall@forumevents.co.uk | Phone: 01992374084)

Hotel Summit
Date: April 27 – 28, 2020
Venue: Five Lakes Resort, Colchester

For two decades, Hotel Summit has been bringing together senior hospitality professionals with suppliers. The two-day event consists of pre-arranged face-to-face meetings, seminar sessions and is complete with a gala dinner.

Supplier contact: Jennie Lane (Email: j.lane@forumevents.co.uk | Phone: 01992 374098)
Delegate contact: Victoria Petch (Email: v.petch@forumevents.co.uk | Phone: 01992 374082)

Meet Up London
Date: May, 2019 (day TBC)
Venue: Minotti London Showroom

The hotel design industry will gather once more at Minotti London in May for Meet Up London, Hotel Designs’ first networking event of 2019.The capital city will be at the centre of the design world  as hundreds of designers, architects, hoteliers, developers and key-industry suppliers descend on city’s Fitzrovia district.

Tickets will open shortly. To sponsor the event, please contact Katy Phillips (Email: k.phillips@forumevents.co.uk | Phone: 01992 374050)

Interior Design & Architecture Summit
Date: June 29, 2020
Venue: Hilton London Canary Wharf

The Interior Design & Architecture Summit (IDAS) is Hotel Designs’ premium meet-the-buyer event for designers, architects and suppliers. The one-day event is designed to connect senior designers and architects with key suppliers. The Summit includes pre-arranged face-to-face meetings, seminar sessions and a networking lunch.

Supplier contact: Jennie Lane (Email: j.lane@forumevents.co.uk | Phone: 01992 374098)
Delegate contact: Kerry Naumburger on 01992 374099 or email k.naumburger@forumevents.co.uk.

Industry insight: How smart tech is reshaping hotels

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Industry insight: How smart tech is reshaping hotels

With technology being a catalyst in the competitive arena of hospitality, hoteliers are focusing on offering guests a unique experience that attracts them toward their services. The hotel industry has changed over the years, explains STAAH

Smart technology is changing everything from the homes we live in to how our cities are managed. The hospitality industry is no exception. In many ways, the hospitality industry is leading the charge in the adoption of smart business technology.

From operations to guest experience to marketing, smart hotel technology offers a variety of cost savings and revenue opportunities, and it is enabling hotel owners to reach new levels of profitability. Here are some ways in which smart technology is reshaping how hoteliers operate.

Self check-in

Today, the guest does not want to wait at the reception desk, and they are expecting everything digital in your hotel. However, self-check-in service by a mobile app is the best solution for customers as well as hotel management staff.

Also, with this, the guests can easily find out whether their room is ready, can make requests for amenities and many more.

Mobile room keys

A smartphone app that provides guest room access, eliminates the problem of attendees losing their key card or the environmental impact of countless plastic cards. This could help your corporate social responsibility image. It’s a win-win!

3) Reserved Parking

Smart sensors and hotel apps will allow guests to not only reserve parking spots ahead of their visits, but to also have their spot assigned at their arrival. This will give your guests an effortless experience from the minute they pull up.

4) Online Reputation Management

A hotel’s online ratings can not only help predict future bookings, but they offer owners valuable insight into how well a property delivered on guest expectations. Therefore, operators will continue to invest in platforms such as STAAH’s review minder, that help them monitor online reviews, manage their online reputation and use that feedback to improve both their operational and guest experience standards.

5) Room service

Hotels will be able to push menu notifications to guests’ smartphones when they are in their rooms using smart occupancy sensors. They can also schedule texts tailored to fit their preferred ordering times, including personalised menu suggestions based on previous orders.

Other smart technologies such as customer surveys, smart loyalty-program management and smart hotel management will play a bigger role in how hotels operate in 2020 and beyond. The key to smarter hotel operations is implementing the right technologies that meet guests’ expectations and hoteliers’ needs to get to know these travelers better.

STAAH is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email  Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: Pixabay

With Brexit looming, the UK hospitality industry must invest to retain talent, study suggests

Hamish Kilburn

With two-thirds of hospitality works planning on quitting their jobs in the near-future, but what can be done ahead of Brexit to retain employees? 

Invest in your staff in order to retain them is the clear message to employers in the hospitality industry in light of new research from Caterer.com. A survey of 21,000 global hospitality workers released today reveals that two thirds (65 per cent) of hospitality workers plan on quitting their jobs in the near future. Worryingly, over half of those workers (59 per cent) plan on moving in the next six months.

The research explored the key attributes which tempt hospitality workers to explore new pastures. Findings demonstrate that career progression is the most important factor (16 per cent) showing employees want long term prospects within a company.  Surprisingly, salary (14 per cent) came in second, followed closely by training & development (13 per cent) – showing staff want to feel invested in by their employers.

“The industry is facing increased staffing and recruitment pressures due in part to uncertainty ahead of Brexit.”

The hospitality sector is big business and the UK’s third biggest employer[1], providing jobs to 2.9 million people (7 per cent of the working population). The industry is facing increased staffing and recruitment pressures due in part to uncertainty ahead of Brexit.

Highlighting the importance of the survey’s findings, Neil Pattison, Director from Caterer.com said, “The hospitality employers who show career progression opportunities will find it easier to attract new employees and retain current staff. With hospitality looking to be one of the hardest sectors hit post-Brexit, it’s fascinating to reflect on the clear call from workers for investment in their future. With 65 per cent of respondents saying that they plan to quit their job in the near future and high competition among employers, investing in your staff will help to alleviate the lure of a role from elsewhere.”

The survey of over 21,000 hospitality workers from across the globe highlights the importance of employment progression for retaining staff in what can often feel like a seasonal or transient industry.

The fast-paced nature of hospitality is a key draw for 12 per cent of workers, while teamwork ranked highly for 14 per cent of those surveyed.

The sector has seen a reduction in apprenticeships since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in 2017 with a low uptake from small businesses and in turn, less opportunities have been available for young people to enter the industry. The Autumn Statement saw the chancellor announce that the Government will half the amount small businesses have to contribute from 10 per cent to 5 per cent when taking on apprentices. – a move hoped to increase industry apprenticeships and on the job training.

Hotel Designs would like to know how your practice is preparing for Brexit. Please Tweet us @HotelDesigns

References available upon request

Main image credit: Pixabay

UK Trade associations react to the Autumn Budget Statement 2018

Hamish Kilburn
UKinbound, Hotel Booking Agents Association and the British Property Federation comment on The Budget 2018…

Following Philip Hammond’s delivery of his third Budget as chancellor, UKinbound, Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) and the British Property Federation have commented on the key points that will affect building infrastructure and tourism in the UK.

UKinbound

UKinbound – the trade association that represents nearly 400 of the UK’s top tourism businesses – has cautiously welcomed some of the new policies and initiatives outlined in the chancellor’s 2018 Budget but urges the Government to re-consider its decision not to change VAT or APD regimes, particularly in Northern Ireland.

New policies that will have a positive effect on the UK’s tourism industry include:

  • The opening of e-passport gates to citizens from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan which will help to reduce queues and waiting times for these visitors.
  • Funding to help restore historic high streets and for Coventry to help it prepare for hosting the UK City of Culture in 2021.
  • The roll out of full fibre broadband for rural areas, which will help tourism businesses to connect and market their businesses more effectively to visitors.
  • Funding to repair and improve roads and extension of the Transforming Cities Fund, which will help to improve connectivity and transport links in cities.  This will help to encourage tourists to visit and further explore the UK’s cities, likely resulting in increased economic benefit across the whole of the UK from enhanced visitor spend.

“We are pleased that the Budget includes several policies that will have a positive impact on the UK’s tourism industry,” said Chairman Mark McVay. “These include the welcome introduction of e-gates for more of our international visitors, improvement of  transport links in our cities and digital connectivity in rural areas and funding to help restore and sustain our historic high streets.

“However, it is disappointing that there will be no change to APD and VAT regimes at this point, even though there is strong evidence that cutting these taxes will in fact generate more revenue for the Government in the long term.”

HBAA

Louise Goalen, HBAA Chair, comments on on the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement: “While we welcome many of the Chancellor’s initiatives and the benefits they will bring to the UK hospitality and events industry, there is not enough to address the major talent gap we are facing.

“On a more positive note, it’s good to see a reduction in business rates for smaller companies.”

“The changes in the apprenticeship levy are good news and we hope that venues and agencies whose levy has been reduced to 5% will take advantage of this, and take on more trainees under this scheme.”

“UK business events will ultimately benefit from the £30 billion spend on roads and the freeze on fuel duty. However, when it comes to overseas events, a rise in long haul APD is definitely unwelcome, as this will impact the incentive market. On a more positive note, it’s good to see a reduction in business rates for smaller companies as this will help reduce the overheads of some HBAA agency members.

“Let’s hope there is good news in the Chancellor’s ‘red books’ – the important small print that goes with these headline statements.”

The British Property Federation

Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation comments:

Business Rates

It is good to see the Chancellor acknowledge that many small retailers are struggling against powerful headwinds and provide additional relief from business rates. However, Monday’s announcement does not change the fact that at almost 50 per cent, the rate of business rates is simply too high for occupiers of all sorts. It is time to recognise that business rates are unsustainable in their current form and causing untold damage to our economy; time for a fundamental review.

Digital Tax

As the UK economy evolves, so must the tax system – and we welcome that the Government is taking steps to respond to this. However, this is not an alternative to much-needed support for our high streets, which still require urgent support in the form of fundamental business rates reform. They will also require local plans that can drive adaptation, incentives to encourage town centre investment and more flexibility around change of use and we are pleased that the Chancellor recognised this.

“A new tax relief for commercial property owners is a real surprise.”

 

Structures and Buildings Allowance:

A new tax relief for commercial property owners is a real surprise. This move brings the UK more closely in line with the many other countries that already provide tax relief for the cost of building commercial property, making the UK more attractive to invest in. It makes investing in new and refurbished buildings cheaper from a tax perspective, and is a welcome move.

Town centres and high streets

The announcement of additional investment into a Future High Streets Fund is welcome, and when combining with the proposed planning reform and a High Streets Task Force has real potential to be a game changer for urban centres facing a change in the way that people shop, how they spend their leisure time, and where they want to live.

However, it’s crucial not to forget some of the other knotty issues that property owners have to grapple with. We support the proper use of CVAs to help businesses in genuine distress and are keen that CVAs continue to achieve these objectives. There is, however, increasing frustration about the practice of some recent CVAs. The BPF has called on Government to conduct an independent urgent review of CVAs.

Land value uplift

We welcome the Government’s sensible, measured approach to land value uplift. In a noisy environment with multiple views on land value capture being aired, it is pleasing to see such a considered response providing more certainty for developers and local authorities, and enabling more infrastructure provision for local communities.

The Letwin Review

We welcome Sir Oliver Letwin’s recommendations, and in particular, his focus on the need for a more diverse, multi-tenure approach to large sites. The benefits will be three-fold, both helping to address market absorption rates and deliver properties quicker and help to create more sustainable places home to different demographics, socio-economic backgrounds, fostering a greater sense of community. In addition, adding a tenure such as build to rent to a development site brings with it an investor with a long term interest.

The Review also recognised the skills crisis in which we find ourselves. Time is of the essence, and whilst we applaud the Government’s intention to take a few months to consider the response to the wider Review, this is an area in which we need urgent action to sure that we can hit the 300,000 target.

Main image credit: Pixabay

Hospitality businesses are risking GDPR penalties by not wiping the memory from old IT equipment

Hamish Kilburn
In the two months following the introduction of GDPR, 45 per cent of hospitality businesses have failed to wipe the memory off redundant IT equipment before disposal.

Despite GDPR legislation having come into effect over four months ago, the majority of UK hospitality businesses are now risking penalties by failing to adhere to some of the rules.

According to a survey of 1,002 UK workers in full or part-time employment, carried out by Probrand.co.uk, a large proportion (45 per cent) of businesses in the hospitality industry failed to wipe the data from IT equipment they disposed of in the two months following GDPR.

This news is perhaps less surprising given the research also found that 97 per cent of hospitality businesses surveyed did not have an official process or protocol for disposing of obsolete IT equipment. What’s more, 97 per cent of hospitality workers admit they wouldn’t even know who to approach within their company in order to correctly dispose of old or unusable equipment.

Worryingly, according to the data, hospitality businesses are one of the industries most likely not to wipe existing data off old IT equipment.

Matt Royle, marketing director at Probrand.co.uk said: “Given the amount of publicity around GDPR it is arguably impossible to be unaware or misunderstand the basics of what is required for compliance. So, it is startling to discover just how many businesses are failing to both implement and follow some of the simplest data protection practices.

“This is especially startling to see from businesses within the hospitality sector, where sensitive customer information including address details and card numbers are handled all the time. The fines involved in a GDPR breach can potentially run into the millions – and what appear to be less tangible impactors, like reputational damage, customer trust and loyalty, will ultimately become financially significant.”

Main image credit: Pixabay

Hotel Tech Spa & Live

Virtual Reality is changing the game in hospitality

800 450 Hamish Kilburn

Hotel Spa Tech Live describes how Virtual Reality is changing the face of international hotel design and service…

Virtual Reality (VR) was once the realm of extreme gamers, but in recent years it has made some big promises about bringing disruption that will span industries. In hospitality virtual reality solutions are already being exploited to bring new and exciting customer experiences.

One key use of VR technology is to enhance the relationship between hotel and visitor. VR ad company Advrtas are exploiting VR in the hotel industry to elevate the consumer-brand relationship, with top of the range immersive experience used to promote luxury hotels.

In hospitality, being ahead of the curve with the latest technology can be the difference which sets you apart from your competitors.

Others, like 36 Zero VR, are using this high-end tech to offer virtual tours, engaging their visitors with the lure of information hot spots.

While offering VR services to your customer base may still feel very sci-fi for now, anyone working in hospitality needs to be aware of the waves it’s already making in the industry. In hospitality, where customers are always looking to be wowed, being ahead of the curve with the latest technology can be the difference which sets you apart from your competitors.

If you want to find out more about innovative technology for hotels, or meet the key players changing the game in hospitality, you need to be at Hotel & Spa Tech live – the UK’s most exciting event for the technology, systems, products, and services that are breaking new ground in the hotel and spa sector.

As technology becomes more critical to the hospitality industries, Hotel & Spa Tech Live provides you with an unprecedented opportunity to find the very latest cutting-edge supplies designed to create a truly unforgettable experience for your customers, from the innovators behind these industry-transforming solutions.

Hotel & Spa Tech Live takes place at the London ExCel on the 25th – 26th September 2018, and tickets for this amazing event are FREE! Find out more about the future of hotel tech and register for your ticket on their website.

Pimlico sofa

Creating the Pimlico Collection from Morgan Furniture

1024 758 Hamish Kilburn

This year’s Clerkenwell Design Week saw the expansion of Morgan’s Pimlico collection to include two new sofas, the dramatic 148 high back booth sofa, and low back 147 two seat sofa to accompany the 140 lounge chair.

The Pimlico collection, designed by Morgan Studio, began as a bedroom chair with a small footprint and has developed to include a variety of size options and high-backs.

Valencia collection

With smooth curved lines and a unique oval seat pad, the expanded collection offers further possibilities and interior solutions; Creating a cohesive collection suited to both workplace and hospitality interiors.

At Clerkenwell Design Week, Morgan also showcased its recent Valencia collection of modular seating, statement asymmetric daybeds and tables. Launching new additions to the table collection, including variations in size and finish.

To view these new collections please visit the Morgan showroom at 1 Dallington Street, ECV1 0BH.

Morgan Furniture are one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, click here.

Excava surface product

Surface trend alert: Caesarstone launches new industrial-themed collection

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The new Caesarstone Metropolitan Collection, launched last night in London, comprises of nine surface products that reflect the UK industrial design trend…

Surface manufacturer Caesarstone has launched the Metropolitan Collection in the UK. The new collection welcomes five new products, which join the four already launched surfaces. Interior designers, members of the press and friends of the brand gathered last night at rough and rustic Barge House, on London’s Southbank, to celebrate the launch.

The latest products include:

Manufacturing on two continents, Caesarstone products are sold in more than 50 countries around the world. Now seen to be leading the industrial trend, Caesarstone’s s latest collection includes rough and unpolished, bold surfaces that form part of the revival of modernism, a rethinking of brutalism and the rekindling of industrial architecture.

The collection launches as a response to the robust construction finishes that have become a popular choice among consumers. This trend, and the collection itself, has been inspired by factories and lofts and has been translated for residential and commercial interiors. Each energetically styled surface in the collection has been designed to reflect the authentic textures of raw manufacturing, such as oxidized steel, poured plaster and raw concrete. Via innovative cutting-edge technology, weathered patinas have been achieved in quartz for the very first time – a breakthrough that can be felt as well as seen.

“Caesarstone continues to set surface design trends that others can only follow,” said Jon Stanley, Caesarstone’s UK Vice President of Marketing. “Last year’s reveal of 4033 Rugged Concrete was a significant hit with both commercial and residential designers; numerous projects and a number of awards followed. But what the launch really did was set the tone for the Metropolitan Collection that we are unveiling now. The brands’ deserved reputation for product design innovation continues without challenge.

“Caesarstone works with the world’s leading trend forecasters and the in-house design team are acutely aware of what’s becoming in vogue and when. Many of our leading partners that already have display materials in their showrooms are seeing significant interest.”

4046 Excava

Inspired by the intriguing patinas of casting and oxidising, combining the authentic features of rust and concrete. Its beauty reflects the geological decay of stone, weathered by time and nature. Its excavated look is appreciated for its texture and depth, ranging from different layers of earth shades to copper and dark brown. Its rough concrete finish is subtly coarse to the touch, yet cleaning remains as effortless as with all Caesarstone surfaces.

Rough industrial-style surface

4011 Cloudburst Concrete

Subtle. Sophisticated. 4011 Cloudburst Concrete with its white on white, tonal cloud like patina delivers a truly unique look. With its “Rough” low reflective matt surface, the design works alongside light and dark timbers, stainless steel, concrete surfaces (including 4033 Rugged Concrete) providing wide design flexibility, from industrial loft to Scandinavian through to minimal contemporary aesthetic.

White industrial-style surface

4044 Airy Concrete 

The light grey base illustrates the richness that minimalism can achieve: an authentic rough concrete finish that has been refined for the home. Its airy visual textures express depth across the worktop, enriched by dark grey and white areas, providing the true feel of concrete while maintaining the easy care synonymous with all Caesarstone products.

Authentic concrete-like finish

4023 Topus Concrete

Inspired by topological strata – fossilized textures built up over time in veiled layers – and combines the mineral formations found in nature with the rugged patinas of industrial materials, giving this surface movement, opacity, and depth. With a gentle hint of warm pink, its blush undertone echoes the pastels that are impacting the interiors market today.

Soft grey surface with a hint of pink

4601 Frozen Terra

Fresh, modern, industrial-inspired concrete / terrazzo fusion with sparsely distributed irregular translucent aggregate and fine black basalt. Further enhancing the overall appearance of Frozen Terra is the “Concrete” matt finish which brings an authentic industrial patina, look and feel to the surface and like all Caesarstone surfaces, never requires sealing.

Caesarstone’s Metropolitan Collection has been designed to reflect the authentic patinas of industrial materials. The variations in appearance capture real depth and movement, revealing different qualities that make each slab unique

In addition to the Metropolitan Collection, two further products have also been added to Caesarstone’s UK range; 6011 Intense White and 4643 Flannel Grey. Both are priced in Caesarstone’s Premium Group 2 category.

Surface with a concrete matt finish

4643 Flannel Grey

Grey has become a versatile neutral in the home-from-home environment. It works in contrast to complementary colours or can calm the space in monochromes, making any of its shades a reliable choice for the contemporary interior.

versatile neutral surface

6011 Intense White

6011 Intense Whites brings light into the kitchen. Its evenly distributed glass flakes reflect the gentle granular nature of stone, while its truly white colour illuminates the surface and adds sophistication.

Pure white surface

The new Caesarstone Metropolitan Collection is available nationally now..

WEBINAR: Who will run hotels in 25 years – humans or robots?

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Who will run hotels in 25 years: humans or robots?

This is one of the thought-provoking questions that will be addressed in an upcoming free webinar by Revinate, IDeaS, SiteMinder: ‘A.I. meets Human Hospitality’, scheduled for December 5th at 4:00pm GMT.

The session will explore the key findings of an industry panel held during this year’s World Travel Market show in London, in which we looked ahead 25 years and explored how the guest experience will change due to the technological advances that we are currently seeing.

The webinar will also tackle questions such as ‘how does the future of human hospitality look like?’, ‘what are the possibilities of robotisation in hotels?’, ‘what should we expect from hotel technology in the far future?’ and ‘will human hospitality be enough to stop robots from taking over?’.

To offer insights on this hot topics, the webinar will feature Monica Or, founder of Star Quality Hospitality Consultancy. With over 25 years of hospitality experience, Monica is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and has been hair for the Institute of Hospitality London, serving on their committee for five years.

As an accomplished speaker and author, she has spoken at international hotel conferences including The Independent Hotel Show in London and COTELCO in Colombia.

She has also been featured in The Caterer, Boutique Hotelier and Hospitality Magazine and writes monthly articles for Hotel Industry Magazine as their industry expert.

Monica is an Amazon best-selling author for her two books ‘Star Quality Hospitality – The Key to a Successful Hospitality Business’ and ‘Star Quality Experience – The Hotelier’s Guide to Creating Memorable Guest Journeys’.

Register for this free webinar here.

Altovita

Airbnb rival Altovita could be set for London

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The rental site Altovita emerging as a competitor to Airbnb could be making its way to London next year, after getting the green light to operate in eastern Europe.

The short-term holiday rental site was launched in July and has already expanded to more than 200 listings across Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Warsaw with a USP that means all properties have been personally inspected and given quality ratings by its staff.

Now the site has been given the stamp of approval in Eastern Europe, with co-founder Alison Ip saying there are another ‘100 or so’ listings in the pipeline, with the ambition to reach 500 by the first quarter of 2018.

The company is headquartered in London and says that the UK capital is in its ‘expansion plans’. Ip added: “We’ll consider coming to London as a city, potentially in the next six to 12 months.”

It will bring another rival in the short-term rental industry, which has been largely dominated by the likes of Airbnb, but Ms Ip – a former UBS investment bank director – says Altovita is trying to make up for a lack of quality assurance.

“The sharing economy is becoming increasingly popular and yet there is no standard of quality for this sector – unlike in the hotel sector, which is very well defined in a five-star rating system that applies across the world and has done so for decades,” she said.

“Some of the poorer properties have fallen through the cracks and effectively frustrated a lot of the customers who effectively loved this model.”

Guest Blog: How VR could transform guest expectations

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Dean Minett, Director at Minett Consulting shares his views on how virtual reality could be changing the expectations of guests…

Try before you buy is an old concept, and it’s been applied to any number of things commercially. Cars, homes, electronics and vitamins — just about every corner of the retail industry has offered no-risk money back arrangements with consumers. People want to know what they’re getting into before they invest. It’s also a powerful statement of confidence on the seller’s (or manufacturer’s) part. It says: You’re going to be happy you own this. You’re not going to want your money back.

Until now, industries that are based in experiences rather than commodities were beyond the pale of “try before you buy” (unless you include Rekall in Total Recall). How are people going to try a surfing vacation before you go? How are you going to try a first class cabin on a train? Multi-media content (images and video) has brought us closer, but there’s still nothing like being there, like actually standing in the space and seeing its dimensions first hand.

Virtual reality has been around awhile, but early iterations made it something of a joke. The graphics were terrible, and the headsets were gigantic.

Now that 360-cameras have become sophisticated and widely available (think about those latest holiday snaps your friends are posting to Facebook), VR technology can vividly put you in real places. You can stand on the veranda of that vacation villa you’re thinking about renting. You can cruise down the streets of a faraway city at night in a Ferrari. You don’t control the accelerator, but it’s easy to let yourself be immersed in the details. Why? Because it’s real detail. It’s actual imagery. Most people who have tried the newer headsets — such as the Samsung unit that makes use of a Galaxy phone — are shocked by how detailed and immersive the experience actually is. Big electronics firms are running, not walking, into the VR space.

Travel is one of the industries most obviously touched by the development of this technology. Effectively, VR means that “try before you buy” is indeed available in our industry — at least to an unprecedented degree. If you’re not sure about which type of room to book at a given hotel, you can be dropped into a 360 degree image or led on a VR walking tour. You don’t have to rely on two-dimensional web site imagery, which rarely gives you an accurate spatial perception and definitely doesn’t provide as much detail.

Travel giant Thomas Cook is among the early adopters. In 2015 they worked with Visualise, a British VR production firm, to produce a series of immersive travel experiences for viewing at Thomas Cook locations around the world. The campaign featured professional filming in diverse locations, including Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Singapore and New York City. A separate campaign for Thomas Cook Airlines gives the public an immersive experience on Thomas Cook flights to different locations, along with contests and promotional opportunities hidden within the VR content.

There’s little doubt that virtual reality and travel are going to mix even more in 2017 and beyond, which means there are tremendous opportunities — along with fresh new pitfalls. As VR headsets and 360 degree content become more and more common, the big hotels are going to produce more content to pull people in. You’ll be able to put on your headset and be immersed in that upper-floor suite, for example. And the next logical step will be seamless booking functionality.

The problem of expectations
What does all of this mean for hotels? Among other things, it means that when a guest shows up, the difference between real and virtual worlds had better not be stark. While VR promotional content has tremendous potential, it sets the bar higher for hotels. Through this kind of promotion, it becomes even more important to deliver on promises, both in terms of amenities and service. Otherwise, people will feel distinctly misled and the online reputations of such hotels will suffer.(As discussed in a previous post, incongruous photographs have the same impact.)

Some hoteliers will choose to steer clear of VR content for these very reasons. It’s also true that VR content is still relatively expensive to produce, and the pictures themselves will grow old like any video or jpeg image. New content will have to be created.

But what if it becomes cheaper to create and distribute VR content? What if “try before you buy” becomes the rule, not the exception, in the hospitality industry? Using such content to promote your hotel could feasibly become as widespread, or indeed as necessary, as using an OTA.

In the end, VR will be productive tool for hoteliers who use it to set up the right expectations. And they’ll strive to meet or exceed those expectations through strong fundamentals, attention to detail, positive interactions between guests and staff. But we need to ensure we are not too focused on the virtual experience because when you come right down to it, real hospitality experiences will always be what counts.

Dean MinettORIGINAL SOURCE

Graduating first from William Angliss Institute in 1982, Dean took on his first General Management role at the age of 22. Since then, he has worked in, managed or consulted to hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants and casinos across Australia and Asia. He is director at Minett Consulting.

Green Tourism outlines new sustainability check

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Green Tourism has detailed its latest ‘Green Check’ offering for tourism businesses seeking a sustainability award.

Kicking off on November 13th, the sustainability check will run until the end of January next year, which will see Green Tourism offer businesses a pre-assessment review.

The ‘Green Check’ will include a series of questions taken from the Green Tourism rating system, which will give companies an idea of where they sit on their journey to be more green.

Businesses will then be given guidance and advice on how they can achieve an award.

Andrea Nicholas, MD of Green Tourism, said: “There is much evidence that consumers, particularly Generation Y, are motivated by ethical consumption. We can certainly back that up by the experiences of those who currently hold a Green Tourism award,” reports Boutique Hotelier.

“Not only are award holders able to communicate clear and compelling differentiation, they are also benefiting from real cost savings by taking on board the advice of our assessors.”

2017 marks Green Tourism’s 20th anniversary, and has launched the initiative as part of its overall strategy to build on the sustainable movements of over 2,000 tourism companies.

Hilton Bankside design

Hilton leading the way in hospitality industry design

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With more than 4,900 properties in over 100 countries worldwide, Hilton is at the forefront of hospitality design innovation.

Gone are days of beige interior and a corporate feel, modern day Hilton hotels are influencing the way the hospitality industry designs places to stay. From striking interiors and a level of detail previously unseen in chain hotels, to technological firsts, Hilton’s 14 brands feature design stories across the globe.

Hilton London Bankside – a modern representation of Hilton in the capital (pictured above)
With more guests looking for authentic, stand out places to stay that truly reflect the surroundings, this property is a shining example, as it takes inspiration from the heart of London. The Distillery, Bankside’s destination bar, is located on the site of a renowned Victorian essence factory and pays homage to its heritage by serving signature cocktails with homemade aromatics, infusions and bitters. Meanwhile the ‘penny wall’, made up of 16,800 pennies, reflects the site’s former use as a warehouse to store five pound notes for the Bank of England. Listen to this podcast to hear the full design story for Hilton London Bankside.

OXBO Restaurant’s excellent use of materials to create space (Photos: London Hilton Bankside)

Curio Collection by Hilton – remarkable hotels for authentic experiences
Curio Collection by Hilton is a portfolio of remarkable hotels, handpicked for their unique character and personality, providing authentic experiences reflective of the destinations they are in. Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton is a prime example of the uniqueness of this newly-launched Hilton brand. A £30m renovation in 2015 ensured the preservation of the hotel’s art deco features to highlight the ‘Golden 20s’ era. Mixing old with new, the cosmopolitan concept for the hotel was inspired by the ocean-liners of the German-owned HAPAG, specifically the SS Cap Polonio, built in Hamburg in 1914. Most noticeable in the hotel’s Restaurant Stadt, the space features heavy chandeliers and wood panelling. For more information visit www.curiocollection.com and to listen to a podcast about the design story at Reichshof, Curio Collection by Hilton.


Hilton Tallinn Park – light fixtures to delight and surprise

The first Hilton to open in the up and coming capital of Estonia features an eye-catching light installation by leading designer Tom Dixon. 150 copper mirror ball pendants, inspired by the famous space helmet, descend 11 metres from the high ceilings of the spacious lobby, making for a stunning first impression upon arriving.

Hilton Tallinn Lobby

Hilton Bournemouth – the ‘Ted Baker hotel’
Ray Kelvin, founder of clothing brand Ted Baker, was heavily involved in the design of Hilton Bournemouth. Ted Baker’s retro British identity is clear throughout the interiors with colours and original prints synonymous with the renowned fashion designer, while guest rooms feature unique Bournemouth vista wallpaper. The hotel’s LEVEL8IGHT The Sky Bar heads further into the past, capturing the essence of the roaring twenties with an art nouveau, creating a Great Gatsby style venue.

Copyright of Pellier Photography

www.hilton.com

Litchfield Sofabed - Hypnos

Hypnos launches new range of sofa beds for hospitality sector

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Award-winning British bed manufacturer and Royal Warrant holder Hypnos is celebrating the launch of its new range of sofa beds specifically designed to meet the demands and rigours of the hospitality sector.

Made for practicality, sofa beds offer a comfortable seat as well as the option of converting a double or single occupancy room into a family or multi-occupancy one in just a few moments.

The new range from Hypnos comprises six different models, all of which have been stylishly designed to create a series of traditional and contemporary sofa beds. Available in a range of sizes, from a single seater chair bed to a corner unit, the range offers hoteliers a versatile working and lounging area in their guest rooms. Furthermore, each sofa bed can be tailored to suit the aesthetic and tone of the suites in which they will sit, using Hypnos’ specialist hospitality fabric collection, or the client’s own choice of fabric, thereby allowing them to take control of the design and offer their guests a unique sleep experience that is not only practical, but also highly stylish.

Litchfield Sofabed - HypnosCustomers can pick their perfect sofa bed inspired by some of the most iconic and desirable places in the world which share their name with the products in the range, including London, Paris, Milan and Manhattan. Paying homage to two of the UK’s most stunning cities, Lichfield and York complete the collection, which has been designed for Hypnos’ customers worldwide.

As experts in creating beds for the hospitality industry, Hypnos has made its new sofa beds with handy, in-built storage features. Designed to be a multi-use product, these new sofa beds offer a wide range of benefits to hoteliers and the housekeeping teams who can keep key items within them.

Clare Taylor, Hypnos Contract Beds Marketing Manager, said: “Our latest range of sofa beds offers an all-round solution to our customers, providing them with the comfort their guests seek, alongside the quality and design hoteliers need for a stylish looking guest suite or room.

“All of our sofa beds are highly durable and backed by a 5 year guarantee. They are also protected by our state of the art hygiene treatments as well as being 100% recyclable at the end of their life,” she added.

For more information on the full Hypnos range, or to download the Sofa bed brochure, please visit www.hypnoscontractbeds.com

Marmorin Sand - Viero

Product Spotlight: Marmorin Sand from Viero

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Can you believe it’s March already? Where is 2017 going? If like us you’ve had a busy start to the year and don’t know where the time is going, we’ve got another product of the month case study to inspire your creative flair.

This month we’re showcasing one of Viero’s more traditional surface finishes. It’s Marmorin Sand, which has recently been used at a place we often rely on to get us going in the morning. Yes, you guessed it. It’s that all important coffee stop at Starbucks.

Marmorin Sand - Viero

Characteristics
This lime-based polished plaster has a spotted marble effect which allows you to achieve a natural and organic wall finish. A great word to describe the atmosphere it sets is historic.

Looking fantastic in grey, it has a fantastic shady tone but can lighten in the same breath. Marmorin Sand lends itself beautifully to projects which cover large surface areas as it blends and moves to allow the interiors around it to really come to the fore.

Marmorin Sand - Viero

Delivery
The Marmorin Sand finish was applied at the Upper St Martins Lane Starbucks Concept store, just a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus in London. The finish helped to create a very natural look for the client.

Design manager Alessia Bucci said: “We used the Marmorin Sand finish because it could help us to achieve a natural wall finish which would react to light and become part of the architectural shell of the building. We are delighted with the final result Viero UK has produced because the wall finish created really seems to belong to the space.”

Feel inspired to use Marmorin Sand in your next project? Email enquries@viero.co.uk to find out more.

Versital bar top in Arabesque finish, Belvedere Arms, Ascot - Mitchells & Butlers

Versital specified for Mitchells & Butlers’ new hospitality concept

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Versital is delighted to have been specified across restaurant, bar and pub operators giant Mitchells and Butlers new Premium Country Pubs. Versital’s luxurious faux marble in a classic ‘Arabesque’ white finish was chosen to complement the exclusive design of the upgraded establishments, found in some of the UK’s most beautiful locations.

The concept of Premium Country Pubs focuses on style, quality fittings and aspiring artwork, and Versital was the natural choice to complement this design brief with its bespoke, high-end solutions. Versital surfaces include bar tops, vanity tops and table tops, dependent on location, with unique luxurious design twists such as built in champagne holders into some of the table tops.

Lauren Milner, Associate Interior Designer at JMDA, the interior design company who specified Versital, says, “Versital offers the perfect flexibility of design to help meet our brief-from any size or colour requirement, we know Versital can deliver. The elegance of the Arabesque finish enhanced the transformation of the original buildings into beautiful, welcoming and premium spaces where people can savour their meal or drink.”

Versital bar top in Chilworth Arms, Southampton - Mitchells & Butlers

Versital bar top in Chilworth Arms, Southampton – Mitchells & Butlers

Versital surfaces provide an exceptional solution for a hospitality environment as they offer the same luxurious looks as marble but are non-porous and therefore stain and water resistant. The surfaces are also completely bespoke and handmade to fit any size, colour or design requirement, offering a truly unique design experience to the customer. Gemma Stockberger, Head of Marketing and Sales for Versital UK, says, “The fact that Versital was specified on multiple areas of the project is a great testament to the flexibility of Versital as a true to life stain resistant marble. As well as bar tops, the surface was used across various venues for the washroom vanities and table tops. We even created fully bespoke table tops that had cast out central areas to allow for ice buckets to be placed for champagne.

“This is precisely the type of work we love to get involved in – working with skilled designers and specifiers to use our product at its best, as well as brilliant installers and joiners to show off the product beautifully. Mitchells and Butlers are an excellent brand with a well-regarded reputation who we were delighted to work with.”

Versital bar top specified in Marchmont Arms, Hemel Hempstead

Versital bar top specified in Marchmont Arms, Hemel Hempstead – Mitchells & Butlers

Versital features in numerous venues of Mitchell and Butlers new collection of individual Premium Country Pubs, designed to deliver the very best in service and food in a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. Establishments include the idyllic Chilworth Arms in Southampton, which features a dramatic Versital bar top as well as table tops and vanity tops; the exclusive Belvedere Arms in Ascot (main picture, top) with a Versital bar top, and the cosy Swan in the Cotswolds blending English heritage with modern comfort. This features striking Versital washroom vanities.

Versital is a hand-made, hand finished product that is manufactured in the UK by skilled craftsmen. Product offerings include an extensive range of bespoke, made-to-measure bathroom products for the home including shower panels, bespoke showers trays, vanity tops and integral basins.

www.versital.co.uk

sales@versital.co.uk

01204 380 780

StayWell Hospitality

StayWell Hospitality embarking on UK expansion drive

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Australian-owned Hotel Management Company StayWell Hospitality Group is staying true to its plans of global expansion by entering into a partnership with renowned United Kingdom hospitality company Fiveways Hospitality.

The newly formed Master Licensing Agreement between the two parties will enable StayWell Hospitality Group to significantly grow its Park Regis and Leisure Inn brands within the UK market.

StayWell Hospitality Group CEO Mr Simon Wan said that entering this agreement will help to secure an additional four hotels in the region within the next 48 months which is part of the groups overarching plan to reach 100 hotels globally within the next three years.

The United Kingdom and Europe as a whole, presents a great opportunity for our Park Regis and Leisure Inn brands, especially after the successful opening of Park Regis Birmingham in March 2016, Mr Wan said.

Fiveways Hospitality has a well established reputation and our partnership will deliver not only opportunities for further growth for StayWell in new destinations and cities but also offer top-shelf operational support to our hotel teams within the region, he said.

Fiveways Hospitality Managing Director, Stuart Broster also agrees that the brands future within Europe looks bright following the formalisation of the partnership agreement.

BHA

BHA calls for immediate CMA inquiry into online travel agents

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Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) welcomed the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union Report calling for an urgent review of online travel agents.

She said: “The BHA welcomes the House of Lords Report which recommends greater accountability and transparency of online travel agents. These OTAs wield vast power and hold our industry hostage by commanding punitive rates of commission. We are pleased that this influential committee is proposing Europe wide steps to enable our industry to challenge anti-competitive online practices when they arise. The BHA calls upon on the government and policy makers in the European Commission to support our lobbing in this area and get engaged – this is a significant step forward for our industry and we want to see the momentum continue.”

Background

The Report by the House of Lords Select Committee is called Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market. It is a response to the EU Commission consultation on how the largest online platforms use their market power and whether current regulation and competition law is effective in the digital economy.

The British Hospitality Association has called for:

  • an outright ban on rate parity clauses – which prevent hotels from offering lower rates than those on the online booking sites where they are listed. This practice impacts directly on consumers since it means less competitive pricing with similar room rates offered by online travel agencies and hospitality venues across the board. Rate parity clauses are already illegal in France and were found to be anti- competitive in cases brought against Booking.com and HRS in Germany;
  • more effective and speedier methods for resolving competition and consumer protection issues and codes of practice for online platforms;
  • transparency for consumers in rankings, ratings, reviews.

The Report recommends:

  • critical scrutiny by competition authorities of parity clauses and recommends that the Competition and Markets Authority urgently order a market investigation into the online travel sector;
  • a speedier process for resolving competition law questions, proposing interim measures be used to stop anti – competitive practices, time limits be applied to negotiations and the development of sector based codes of practice;
  • recommends the European Commission amend the Unfair Consumer Practices Directive so that platforms are required to provide the criteria on which they provide ratings and search results and their policies for handling negative reviews, as well as clearly distinguishing between user reviews and paid promotions.

The British Hospitality Association has worked on behalf of the industry to persuade government to take a long, hard look at anti-competitive behaviour in the digital travel sector.

The next step is for the Competition and Markets Authority to adopt the Report’s recommendations to make sure that the travel and hospitality sector is a truly competitive marketplace, which is, after all, in the best interests of the consumer.