Feeling the BoHo buzz

Around 250 leaders in their fields attended the 2018 Boutique and Lifestyle Hotel Summit in London this week.

The Summit, now in its eighth year, attracted hotel owners, operators, general managers and service providers from as far afield as Thailand, the US and Nigeria.

The event kicked off with an 'Unlock the neighbourhood' tour of London's Shoreditch. This vibrant quarter has changed hugely over the last decade, and the tour took in a wide range of hospitality and F&B offerings in the area, including The Napoleon - known as London's smallest boutique hotel, with three bars and one room; The Curtain - the latest project from Gansevoort Hotels' Michael Achebaum; pop-up retail and F&B outlet Boxpark and the Dictionary Hostel.

After the tours we headed to the Montcalm Royal London House on Finsbury Square, where after a hectic speed business card swap, the winners of the 2018 Boutique Hotel Guest Experience Awards - the BoHos - were recognised. Click here to read about the winners. Then it was on to the LP Club at The Curtain for an fear party with drinks, networking and - in some cases - dancing.

Day two saw a packed agenda of seminars, workshops, panel discussions and presentations, with an emphasis on audience participation - the Catchbox throwable microphone was very much in evidence!

After host Piers Brown welcomed the audience, a short video was played, in which hoteliers and technology experts gave their thoughts nohow increasing use of tech can be used sympathetically and in balance with traditional hospitality skills. Click here to watch the video. This was followed by a discussion between Brown and Lennart de Jong of citizenM about the future of hotel technology. De Jong stressed the difficulty hotels face in incorporating new technology with legacy systems.

Hotel case studies of the wonderful Novanta in Tuscany and London's charitable Good Hotel then followed - their presentations and all the others from the day can be found here.

Bill Barnett of C9 Hotelworks them moderated a session featuring Todd report of Standard Hotels and Alex Andjel of Virgin Hotels, looking at Brexit, London and European cities. The consensus was that London is likely to be highly resilient to the effects of Brexit, while both men had their eyes on further European expansion.

The first break out session - on the increasingly hot topic of mindfulness - was run concurrently with an owners and developers panel featuring Vedrana Riley of Ciel Capital, Mark Fuller of Karma Sanctum Hotels and Adi Hodzic of Dean Street Developments, followed by presentations on two different ways for hotels to reinvent their F&B offerings - complete with optional Blood Marys for audience members!

An intriguing debate on the sharing economy and its level of threat or opportunity for the hotel sector featured Guus Bakkers of Malmaison Hotel Du Vin and Karim Neilsen of Brøchner Hotels. Among the topics discussed were regulation, the effects of the sharing economy on affordable housing and whether the sector has become professionalised faster than legislation can keep up.

After lunch a session on influencers and social media discussed the need to research the relevance of paid influencers to a hotel's brand, and to look for quality of followers rather than quantity. Further sessions followed on localism, investment, intelligent lighting and the Internet of Things, operations, branding and distribution.

The room was then broken down in to round table workshops for a series of lively talks on GDPR, voice control, the Chinese guest, sustainability and more.

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Stimulating day with industry experts, excellent networking and lots of valuable takeaways.

Paul MacSherry, Hotel Consultant

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