The title of this year’s conference at Hilton Deansgate in Manchester, is Connect and Communicate, which AHC co-founder and COO UK CBRE Hotels Jonathan Langston believes is vital for independent hoteliers to be successful today.
“It’s an important aspect across the business, especially in a world where you have an even greater prevalence of customer reviews,” he said.
“Yes, you’ve got to get the fundamentals right in your hotel and you’re very quickly told about it if you haven’t, but you don’t want it to be through TripAdvisor or social media.
“You have to own your customer direct, so the question is how do you communicate with them and engage with them from the start?”
Langston, who will open the conference, now in its twelfth year, on 14 October said independent hoteliers have to fight harder to ‘own’ their guests as they try and compete with OTAs.
He said those who had successfully built up a relationship with customers instantly saw benefits to the business’s bottom line.
“You have to try and pull them in via your own website and give them a reason to come direct to you rather than through an OTA where they’ve chosen you purely on price,” he said. “That way you can engage with them, make their stay better and retain them in the future.”
Speakers and sessions
Speakers this year include Josh Wyatt, chief strategic officer at Generator and Jon Yantin, commercial director of F&B company The ONE Group.
Kevin Roberts executive chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi also returns for a second time as keynote speaker.
“He was hugely popular last time and is massively into connecting and communicating so he is a good choice,” said Langston. “He specifically requested another outing to the conference, so we welcomed him back. He was impressed with how many people we could get together to talk about hotels in Manchester.”
Sessions, as always, will have a practical, building a better business, focus with branding, OTAs, technology and finance among the areas to be discussed.
"The conference has become recognised for talking about the more operational, financial and developmental issues, more practical ones than the investor stuff happening in Berlin. They're both useful, but in different ways," said Langston.
The Annual Hotel Conference takes place at the Hilton Deansgate, Manchester on 14 and 15 October. To register to attend click here