The Annual Hotel Conference 2013: Looking back at 10 years within the hotel sector

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Annual hotel conference, Hotel

The AHC celebrates its 10th anniversary this year
The AHC celebrates its 10th anniversary this year
As the Annual Hotel Conference (AHC) celebrates its 10th year, BigHospitality asks co-founder Jonathan Langston what he thinks have been the biggest changes within the hotel sector in the last decade and what we can expect from this year's event. 

The Annual Hotel Conference, the major meeting of those working within the UK's hotel sector, is back in Manchester next month celebrating its 10th year of providing insight and guidance to the industry. As we reach this milestone we ask what has changed within the industry, what we can expect this year and predictions for the next 10 years. 

The increasing numbers of branded hotels opening in the UK, changes to the way hotel rooms are distributed and the emergence of 'bricks and brains' operations have been the three biggest changes according to Langston, senior director CBRE Hotels, who co-founded the conference a decade ago. 

While independent hotels continue to thrive, we have witnessed the emergence of many more branded hotels enter the UK market over the last 10 years, he says. 

"A larger proportion of our hotels are now branded and I don't see that changing. Brands are accessible for new hoteliers to enter the market because they have the reassurance of a brand behind them." 

With the emergence of the internet, we have seen big changes to the way rooms are distributed too, Langston says: "Online Travel Agents (OTAs) have given hoteliers another way to sell their bedrooms, but they have come at a cost," he warns. "They have a place, but we will have to look at whether we can afford to give 30 to 40 per cent of the room price to the distributor in the future. It's a new cost to the hotelier that wasn't around 10 years ago and although it can help, it has changed the P&L of a hotel." 

Finally, the number of 'bricks and brains' operations now is increasing with many hoteliers looking to become asset-light to better focus on operating the business instead of worrying about the up-keep of the property too. 

"A lot of hotels are now operated by a brand and owned by a third-party. There's a lot more division between the owner of the asset and the owner of the brand now - take IHG for example, now they only own their New York property, yet they have hotels all over the world.

"This new set-up has allowed hoteliers to really get on with the operation of a hotel and concentrate on providing good service and that has been a big change for many." 

The AHC 2013

So, with the last 10 years of the conference choosing topics that reflected the state of the industry, what can we expect from this year's milestone event? 

"We have some really great speakers, including Kevin Roberts of Saatchi and Saatchi. To have someone like him prepared to speak to an industry-specific conference is terrific," says Langston who will also welcome names such as Robert Cook of De Vere, Andrew Shaw of Accor and Craig Bancroft of the Northcote Group. 

The conference will now take place over two days, starting at lunchtime on 16 October, to allow delegates more time to network and attend panel session. 

Sessions include How to Capitalise on Hotel Space, Ownership of Customers/OTAs and Driving Revenues through Training.

"Overall, we really want to help build growth this year for the industry. We also want the AHC to grow, but not too much, as delegates tell us they like it for its intimacy," he adds. 

And with a decade behind us, what can the hotel industry expect for the next one? 

"We will continue to see the rise of budget hotels as the vast majority of development has been within this area over the last few years. A lot of people have a different mind-set now to staying overnight somewhere. They don't want all the facilities they needed previously and will probably have dinner outside the hotel as well as spending the day outside of the hotel, so the hotel is just a place to sleep," says Langston. 

"But what we really need to do as an industry is grow rates. It can be difficult, but that is the main thing people want and need to do." 

The AHC 2013 will take place at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate on 16 and 17 October. For more information and to buy tickets, visit the website

BigHospitality is a media partner to the event and will be reporting live via Twitter during the event and providing news updates following it. 

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