This afternoon, a handful of our staff attended the Independent Hotel Show Summit which was broadcasted via Crowdcast to an audience of over 800 people, varying from hotel owners and operators to hospitality professionals. The very interesting webinar offered us great insight into the industry, the impact of COVID-19 on hotels and how hotels can move forward over the next year and beyond. Martijn Langstraat from Amadeus showcased some very fascinating data which really highlighted how hotels were performing, and how they have been impacted. From this, it is clear that occupancy rates are naturally down at the moment, and whilst there were increases in 2020 post the first impact of COVID, the occupancy rate soon dramatically dropped once again. Despite this, using data of future bookings and without projecting the occupancy rates, it is evident that hotels can expect an increase in guests in 2021. This leads to hotels needing to be best prepared to make the most out of their reduced client database and market size. One way in which hotels can really focus on generating more business when it is safe to do so, is by focusing on their discounts and promotions in which they can offer. Another trend that was evident was that people are now beginning to connect with the hotel directly, rather than through third party websites and applications. During these times, people want to build that trust and their relationship with the hotel in which they are staying at. This means it is very important for hotel owners to ensure that their website and social channels are up to date, modern and in line with what information their clients may wish to find online. The final thing we noted from this wonderful presentation is that it appears that people are now booking much closer to their date of stay. This is inevitably because of the unstable times that we live in, but it highlights the importance of this data – how, as hotels, can you market and build your relationships with clients, as well as potential clients, during COVID-19? Amadeus offer incredible records of data and insights which can unlock a clear vision into the hospitality sector. This data shares with us how the market is doing and how it will perform in the future. We believe this can be absolutely priceless for hotels and hospitality industry professionals because by using the data, you can adapt and plan accordingly to ensure you generate the best results for your business, or for your hotel. After the wonderful presentation by Martijn Langstraat, the webinar then moved onto discuss market shifts and what they’ve noticed in terms of what is going to be important moving forward in order to thrive within the hotel sector – this was presented by Chris Sanderson, the co-founder of The Future Laboratory. In the UK, there has been a decline of over 70% in UK visits which has undoubtedly hit the sector hard, and will have been a significant factor to that drop in occupancy rates as mentioned previously. There has been a big decrease in footfall, in occupancy rates and sadly, an increase in redundancies across lot of large, reputable brands. This truly highlights the importance of getting everything right and in place to ensure that when it is safe to do so, guests from all parts of the country and indeed the world, will feel comfortable staying at your hotel. The three main factors noted were the significance of aligning your hotel with the digital world, sustainability and guest experience. Without a doubt, COVID-19 has put an awful lot of things into perspective for a lot of people. The importance now of being clean, appreciating the outdoors and the power of sustainable practice is going to be at the top of many peoples minds when travelling and of course staying at hotels. Vincent van Dijk, a Trend Forecaster and Partner from HBMEO shared with us a wonderful video showcasing the newest and most unique hospitality trends which really bring to the surface how hotels can adapt and improve their guests experiences. During these times, and certainly beyond these times, cleanliness is inevitably going to be a huge priority for hotels and rightfully so. Having that extra focus on housekeeping will benefit hotels massively, because as mentioned previously, guests and future guests want to feel safe, build a relationship and trust the hotel in which they are occupying. Vincent demonstrated the future of hospitality by sharing several different touch free technologies which can change the way in which hotels operate across the world. Removing the risk of virus transmission through taking away unnecesary contact with surfaces throughout hotels and replacing it with technology, can only have a positive impact on the sector. Some examples are touch free audio control, voice controlled curtains, mobile applications allowing you to check in to the hotel. On top of these technologies, sustainability is also key to any hotels success, pre or post COVID. It’s about creating a society of likeminded people whereby the hospitality sector can come together to protect our environment. This may require changes of hotels perspectives, or industry professionals changing their perspective on just how crucial environmentally friendly practice is to benefit our world. All in all, the webinar ran by The Montgomery Group allowed us an absolutely brilliant insight into the hospitality sector; the challenges we all face but also a clear image of just how we can adapt and move forward productively.