Brewing Success: Connect Ireland 2023 – a pouring of Insights, Innovation and Hospitality

Friday, December 08, 2023.

Last Thursday, 23rd of November 2023, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin played host to a dynamic gathering of over 60+ hoteliers for our Connect Ireland event. Nestled within the iconic home of Guinness, attendees were treated not only to an insightful lineup of speakers and panellists, of learning and networking, but also to the perfect blend of hospitality—a hearty lunch and a pint of the famed Irish stout.

The event, masterfully MC’d by the skilled Orlaith Carmody, a coaching and consulting facilitator, and hosted by Clio O’Gara, Guestline’s Country Manager for Ireland, provided a platform for industry experts to share their knowledge. The keynote speaker, Tom McDermott, Change Management Expert from Agility Hospitality, took the stage to delve into the transformative concept of creating an ‘environment for change’ within the hospitality business. Emphasising the importance of continuous improvement, he outlined a 4-step approach, shedding light on the value-adding activities that captivate guests and why stagnation is a recipe for falling behind.

The panel discussion on ‘How Guest Expectations are Changing Operations in Hotels’ featured industry experts such as Allison Chambers of Oaky, Allan Nelson of For-Sight, Sharon Power Cowley of Net Affinity, and the spontaneous addition of Ciara Crossan from WeddingDates.ie. The conversation revolved around the interconnected nature of technology, underscoring the need for seamless collaboration among partners to meet evolving guest expectations, in particular the younger generation, who expect a fully connected experience from start to finish.

Chris Jones, Senior Product Manager at Guestline, Allan Nelson, CEO of For-Sight, and David Byrne from AskSuite, shared insights on ‘How AI is Going to Impact Hospitality.’ Acknowledging the rapid integration of AI in various sectors, they stressed the importance of embracing technology, dispelling fears, and understanding the benefits for both hoteliers and guests. The discussion highlighted the need for education as the panel urged hoteliers to consider AI as a helpful aide rather than a threat.

Michal Rao, Senior Account Manager at STR, provided valuable insights into the hospitality market outlook, noting the global recovery in room sales post-2019. However, he pointed out that challenges persist, with the cost of living prompting some to downgrade their holiday choices. Despite these challenges, ADR growth remains robust, and new hotel constructions are underway, especially in Dublin with key events driving demand in 2024, promising an exciting year ahead for the capital’s hospitality sector.

Chris Jones returned to the stage to discuss the ‘Lobby of the Future’ and the transformative power of self-service. Drawing parallels with the evolution of entertainment from DVD rentals to instant streaming, Jones painted a vivid picture of a future where mundane tasks are automated, promoting efficiency and elevating the guest experience alongside the growing importance of embracing technological advancements in the industry.

The day concluded with a thought-provoking panel discussion on ‘Get Ready for Change,’ featuring Daragh O’Neill, President of the IHI, Janice Gault, Chief Executive at NIHF, and Christopher Kenny, Chief E-Commerce Officer at The Great National Group. The panel addressed the challenges of engaging older customers, the multi-generational workforce, and the pivotal role of technology in shaping guest experiences.

As the event wrapped up, attendees enjoyed a light lunch and a creamy pint of Guinness, fostering a relaxed atmosphere for further networking and discussions. The day set the stage for the evening’s annual IHI Founders Evening and Awards Event at the Clayton Hotel, where the industry came together to celebrate its achievements and the individuals who contribute to its success.

With a successful Connect Ireland 2023 behind us, the anticipation is already building for Connect Ireland 2024 where the conversation will undoubtedly continue to evolve. Stay tuned for more insights, innovations, and connections at #ConnectIreland2024!

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