How AI is transforming the workforce and guest experiences

UK: The Hotel Leadership Conference 2024, organised by the Master Innholders, explored how AI and technology is shaping the current and future workforce and guest experiences.

Held at Park Plaza London Riverbank, the Hotel Leadership Conference focussed on the theme ‘Breaking Boundaries’. Across two days, insights were shared on what the future of hospitality could look like and how best to adapt to changes.

Business futures strategy director and consultant at GDR, Ella Sy, provided an overview of the wider hospitality and travel industry. She highlighted that 82 per cent of people want to travel more responsibly in the future, 55 per cent are looking for off-the-grid vacations, and 46 per cent said they’re more likely to travel to destinations that they wouldn’t have previously considered after experiencing them virtually.

Concerns around the use of AI and ethics were raised in a panel discussion hosted by broadcaster and journalist Naga Munchetty and featuring CEO and founder of Journey, Simon Bullingham, hotelier and sustainability advisor Sue Williams, and managing director of The Goring, David Morgan-Hewitt.

Morgan-Hewitt said: “I don’t think AI will replace humans. People want interaction – they want a relationship. People want to be loved. They spend a lot of time on their own and when they come to a hotel, they want to be looked after. AI can enhance the guest experience, but it will never replace the need for a dedicated team to help make our guests stay that extra special.”

Current and emerging trends in the workforce were discussed by senior manager in PWC’s workforce transformation team, Leanne Walters-Hawke. She said: “Treat the employee experience like the customer experience. Use employee data like you would your customer data – what does my workforce want and value?”

The closing keynote presenter Keith Coats emphasised the importance of building a culture of initiative. “When the world changes then the workplace also needs to change,” he said. “We need to know the tools in which we need to put our ideas into practice but also be unafraid to break things up in order to learn how to make them better.”

Next year’s Hotel Leadership Conference will be held on 20-21 January at London Hilton Bankside. For more information about the Master Innholders, including applications for becoming a Master Innholder or applying for an Aspiring Leaders Diploma, visit the website or sign up to the newsletter for regular updates.

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