HBAA gets it together in Stratford

The HBAA has
welcomed
a record 325 delegates to its Annual Forum 2010 at the Holiday Inn
Stratford-Upon-Avon (8-9 September), lending substance to the declared
conference theme: ‘The Power of Togetherness’.  The figure marks a 10 per cent
increase in delegate numbers and association Chairman Stephen Usher said it
reflected the growing presence of the HBAA within the hotel booking and meetings
industry sector, and
“testament to how we operate and the high profile line-up of speakers”.

Usher told conference-news: “When times are tough,
good associations do well” and emphasised the association’s strengths, including
its Code of Conduct, Training Academy and strong networking. The
lobbying of Government
and White Paper produced on the Tour Operators’ Margin Scheme, said Usher,
showed how the industry could be successful in defending its members’
specialised interests. Usher said the strategy was for strong association
operating in its professional niche, and not as an “uber” association.

Industry consultant Melvin Gold delivered the first day
keynote, offering insight into where the economy stands for the UK
hospitality industry.

Members responded to a panel debate on how they think
their businesses will perform in the next 18 months. The tone was cautiously
optimistic, with 62 per cent of businesses believing they would grow by more
than five per cent within the next 18 months, with only eight per cent thinking it would
stay static. London hotel business is
clearly more resilient than provincial business, according to Gold’s research.

On the downside, several speakers warned of the need to
prepare for the impact of public sector expenditure cuts. Whitehall, said Gold, was
spending £320m on hotels a year and £70m on flights. Sectoral research estimates
of the worth of the public sector to the hospitality sector, said Gold, ranged
from 8-30 per cent.

Gold highlighted the power of the Internet and how it
had the power to transform the industry with hotels putting distressed inventory
online to sell. Recent research from Travelclick, he said, showed 38 per cent of
all hotel bookings were now being made online.

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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