Key themes in global hotel industry top agenda at ITB Berlin

Key themes in global hotel industry top agenda at ITB Berlin

The hotel industry is currently tremendous upheaval, with travelllers increasingly demanding services which are flexible tailored specifically to their needs.

There has also been a noticeable shift in focus toward eco-sustainability and the importance of increased networking due to the influence of social media.

These are just some of the latest trends which are being examined the 6th ITB Hospitality Day today, with a number of discussion rounds taking place.

One of the leading forums of the ITB Berlin Convention, the event has been organised by Maria Pütz-Willems, editor-in-chief of the online trade magazine hospitalityInside.com, and 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?” is first on the agenda, in an event 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 cooperation with local tourism experts.

Also taking part will be Friedrich Niemann, long-serving director of the Budapest Hilton, Laurent Picheral, chief executive of 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.

Next, Xavier Font of the Leeds Metropolitan University Research Institute will present the findings of a comparative study examining the environmental and CSR policies of leading international hotel chains.

Rohit Talwar of Fast Future Research and Jérôme Destors of Amadeus will also take a look into the future. Among other things they will talk about how personalised services will be redefined in the future.

Past, Present and Future

Numerous high-ranking participants will be on the chief executive panel.

Taking as its slogan “Hotel real estate versus real estate as a hotel” and moderated by Maria Pütz-Willems herself, the meeting with Reto Wittwer, long-serving chief executive of Kempinski, the leading luxury hotel chain, and Christian Windfuhr, chief executive of Grand City Hotels & Resorts, which is fast conquering the hotel real estate market, promises to spark a controversial debate.

A further discussion round will raise another controversial issue, and will ask “Are family-run hotel businesses finished?”

The panel for this one will discuss the problems affecting a European hotel market dominated by medium-sized, family-run businesses. Not only is there no one left to succeed the current generation of owners, but private hotel businesses are now coming under pressure from large chains with their stylish franchise brands.

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.

Stephan Gerhard of Solutions Holding will talk about the opportunities for companies who have no successors to run their businesses.

The Rise of Social Media

Social media is one of the most talked about topics in the hotel sector.

Gabriele Schulze of marketing4results will be asking the following questions, among others: “To what extent do you already use hotel evaluation portals?” and “Will the two of you become friends for life?”

The following will take part in the discussion: Juliane Cray, Industry Head Travel, Google Germany, Markus Luthe, managing director, Hotelverband Deutschland, Marco Nussbaum, chief executive of Prizeotel Management Group, Christine Petersen, president, TripAdvisor for Business and Jörg Trouvain, chief executive of holidayCheck.

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 hostelsclub.com, as well as hotel owners Mark Lankester, chief executive of the Tune Hotels group from India, and Oliver Winter, chief executive of A&O Hotel and Hostels, Berlin, will discuss the issues.

More Information

The 6th ITB Hospitality Day will take place on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds in Hall 7.1b, Saal London, on Thursday, March 10th 2011 from 10:30 until 18:00.

The media partner collaborating with Messe Berlin is the online trade magazine hospitalityInside.