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AHICE 2018 wraps-up after huge second day loaded with announcements

The ninth annual Australian Hotel Industry Conference and Exhibition (AHICE), hosted and presented by HM Magazine, has wrapped up for another year (03 May 2018).

More than 800 delegates registered for the conference, which saw attendees create meaningful business connections and engage in educational sessions over two days.

The momentum continued on the second day, with delegates hearing thought provoking updates and presentations by Tourism Australia Chair and Mantra Chief Executive Bob East; followed by an industry update delivered by Tourism Accommodation Australia chair Martin Ferguson and Q&A sessions with Travelodge Asia chairman Stephen Burt and Intrust Super Chief Executive Brendan O’Farrell.

Time Out Australia Managing Director Michael Rodrigues then led a panel discussion on food and beverage issues and trends. The panel was comprised of Matteo Restaurant Director Adam Abrams; Restaurant and Catering Industry Association Chief Executive Juliana Payne; Design Assembly Principal Paul Wiste; Pastuso Chef Alejandro Saravia and Site Hospitality Managing Director Dave Galvin.

A big F&B issue affecting the hotel industry is the new visa 457 rules which has effectively “turned the tap off” experienced international chefs coming into the country, the panel said.

“The local industry is losing out on highly skilled chefs due to a political issue,” Ms Payne said.

IHG Managing Director Leanne Harwood took to the stage next with HM editor-in-chief James Wilkinson discuss her new role and ways to develop staff to take on leadership roles.

Harwood said that the talent pool for top level jobs is getting smaller and smaller.

“Hospitality isn’t just a part-time job, we do have great careers available for you,” she said.

A highlight of the day for many was Professor Toby Walsh’s keynote presentation on how artificial intelligence will impact the hotel industry.

He said: “AI has the opportunity to make us happier, healthier and wealthier.”
“The smartphone in your pocket has more power than the technology that took us to the moon.”
Staying on the topic of innovation, B-Hive founder Tammy Marshall delivered an educational presentation on the ‘7 Deadly Sins of Innovation’, and  how to embrace them and use them to your advantage.
She implored the audience to make sure that the innovations they were implementing were meaningful to their customers.
“Don’t just innovate for the sake of innovating,” she said.
Another highlight of the day was PR Maven Kim McKay’s keynote on the business of influence and what hoteliers need to know about influencer marketing.
On the topic of targeted social posts, she said: “Consumers are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad,” she said.
Instead, consumers are looking to honest influencers for recommendations on products and services, she said.
The technology discussion continued in the afternoon with a panel discussion led by Ted Horner the Managing Director or E Horner & Associates. He was joined by tech experts Toby Berger, Revinate; Jeremy Holmes, Elements of Byron and Wayne Taranto, Crown Group.
The group delved into the emerging tech hoteliers should look into, including digital compendiums and in-room tablets.
The second iteration of ‘what owners want’ saw Gus Moors, Head of Hotels, Australia at Colliers International moderate a panel comprised of respected industry asset managers.
On the panel was Ross Beardsell, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group; Howard Kemball, KCom; Dean Minett, Minett Consulting; Andrew Taylor, Cre8tive Property and Andrew Williams, Dransfield Hotels and Resorts.
 TFE Hotels Chief Executive Rachel Argaman and Far East Hospitality CEO Arthur Kiong then gave an update on their brands and expansion plans.
Kiong hinted that the Quincy brand may soon debut in Sydney, while Argaman revealed that as many as 6-10 hotels are in the pipeline for TFE in Australia.
Later, Marriott International president Craig Smith took to the stage for a Q&A session with HM editor James Wilkinson.
Smith spoke on the importance of having good competitors in the market to spur innovation and creativity.
“We’ve got some great competitors here in Australia,” he said.
The annual AHICE Hotel Jeopardy saw Lancemore Group’s Julian Clark, Raddisson Group’s Barry Fleischmann and Colliers International’s Karen Wales compete on who had the best hotel trivia knowledge. After a heated battle, Ms Wales was crowned the 2018 victor.
The afternoon session led by Michael Moret-Lalli, Managing Director , MM Leisure saw panellists take to the stage to discuss the trends among midscale and upscale developments.
The panel comprised Barry Fleischmann, director, Radisson Hotel Group; Michael Herman, Executive Development Manager, TFE Hotels; Peter Hill, Director of Development, Event Hospitality and Entertainment; Matt Holmes, Director of Development and Acquisitions, Wyndham Hotel Group and Tushar Raniga, Area Vice President, Next Story Group.
With the sharing economy a hot topic in the industry, the session with Airbnb Country Manager Sam McDonagh inspired heated discussion among delegates.
Finally, the day wrapped up off with an open floor discuss with former Starwood CEO Frits Dirk van Paasschen.

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