Rafat Ali, Founder-CEO of New York-based Skift, is pretty clever. He has built Skift’s daily online briefing into an essential for travel technology and airlines. His ‘Future of Lodging Forum’, at THE LONDONER – the London one, in Leicester Square, rather than the Macau wannabe – was, as its name implies, more about hotels, though one speaker is a board member of Finnair. He had an impressive retinue, led by Skift’s hands-on President, Carolyn Kremins, a really good moderator.
The Londoner, a Preferred hote,l was a main sponsor, with Accor and numerous tech giants. The hotel did its usual brilliant job whe it came to catering. The 400+ attendees were attracted by the subject, by Skift and by such speakers as Katerina Giannouka, still-new CEO Jumeirah, and Marloes Knippenberg, CEO Kerten Hospitality.
Hilton CCO Chris Silcock, who started as a banqueting steward at the Watford Hilton, feels good, seeing recovery in all sectors, with leisure figures off the charts – as Chris Nassetta says, this is the new golden age of travel.
Hilton’s promotion ‘it matters where you stay’ implies ‘staying is important to you. Silcock let slip that a Hilton TikTok, starring Paris Hilton, got 40m views, but he is most proud of Hilton AI’s ability to guarantee connecting rooms. This is the first step to choosing exact room numbers and even more personalisation. Hilton’s new brand, Spark by Hilton, is premium economy and he did hint there might be a luxury lifestyle to come.
For Marriott’s Director Media Strategy & MarTech, Sofia Rovnova-Nixon, the biggest challenge is collecting data within appropriate national regulations.
Finnbar Cornwall, Google’s Industry Leader for travel, technically explained how net-gen Google Hotels and Google Maps, with prominent green choices, will benefit hotels as well as consumers.
IHG’s Chief Sustainability Officer Catherine Dolton, a Cambridge-grad accountant, leads an initiative to improve 30m lives by 2030 – but what does life improvement mean? And how can ESG become even more part of the community? Sustainability has to walk a fine tightrope between short-term targets, which attract the City, and long-term goals, supporting climate change. IHG’s Green Engage has over 200 helpful ideas for its hotels.
The programme was well-planned, meticulously executed with great networking. Girlahead can’t wait for the follow-up.