Hospitality Day to debate the latest industry trends

Windfuhr and (below) Wittwer...promise spirited exchange

THE hotel industry is currently facing massive change with new society trends demanding services that are flexible and meet specific consumer groups’ needs. The focus is also on the shift towards eco-sustainability and more networking due to the influence of social media.

These are just some of the latest trends that will be key themes at the sixth ITB Hospitality Day on March 10.

The seven discussion rounds  will provide background information on trends and important impulses for the future of the hotel industry.

Hotel markets in Eastern Europe – genuine prospects or simply an illusion? will be the topic of the first discussion round. Moderated by Martin Schaffer, an expert in Eastern European affairs and adviser to Kohl&Partner, Vienna, the debate will focus on the difficulties involved in recognising travellers’ needs in the Eastern European market and on co-operation with local tourism experts.

Also taking part will be Friedrich Niemann, long-serving director of the Budapest Hilton, Laurent Picheral, CEO Orbis, the largest hotel chain in Poland, Thomas Willms of Starwood Hotels and Kristian Sustar, president of the Croatian Hotel Association and executive director of HUP Zagreb.

Professor Dr Christian Buer, a specialist in hotel and tourism management, will examine two forward-looking topics.

Xavier Font of the Leeds Metropolitan University Research Institute will present the findings of a comparative study examining the environmental and corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies of leading international hotel chains.
And Rohit Talwar of Fast Future Research and Jérôme Destors of Amadeus will take a look into the future. Among other things they will talk about how personalised services will be redefined in the coming years.

Numerous high-ranking participants will be on the CEO panel which takes as its slogan ‘Hotel real estate versus real estate as a hotel’.

The panel with Reto Wittwer, long-serving CEO of Kempinski,  and Christian Windfuhr, CEO of Grand City Hotels & Resorts, which is fast conquering the hotel real estate market, promises to spark a controversial debate. A further discussion will raise another controversial issue asking whether family-run hotel businesses are finished.

Together with Guglielmo Brentel, president of hotelleriesuisse, brands expert Steffen Weidemann, of the IHF Institute in Frankfurt, will moderate a discussion about unfashionable Swiss hotels, with Marcus Smola, managing director of Best Western Hotels Deutschland, and Susanne Weiss, who manages Ringhotels Deutschland, also discussing the appeal of domestic and international brands.

Social media is one of the most talked about topics in the hotel sector. Gabriele Schulze of marketing4results will be asking the questions, ‘to what extent do you already use hotel evaluation portals?’ and ‘will the two of you become friends for life?’ of a discussion panel comprised of leaders including Juliane Cray, industry head travel, Google Germany.

Low-budget hotels and hostels are also distinctly setting the tone in the hotel sector. Under the heading of ‘A good night’s sleep for next to nothing’ Martina Fidlschuster, managing director of the management consultancy Hotour will be analysing the services and structures. Consultant and market observer Franz-Josef König, Andrea Mahenna, managing director of the hostel booking platform, Mark Lankester, CEO of the Tune Hotels group from India, and Oliver Winter, CEO of A&O Hotel and Hostels, Berlin, will discuss the issues.