Page 1

September 2018




P. 13


P. 20

HOSPITALITY EXCHANGE MINI PROGRAMME AND HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS YEAR’S MUST-SEE CONFERENCE. P. 20-21 MEMBER NEWS Refurbishments, awards and celebrations in the Northern Ireland hotel world.

P. 6-8 INDUSTRY NEWS More news from hotels, restaurants and the wider tourism sector.

P. 32 FOOD AND TOURISM How food can transform a guest experience, including developments in the Food Heartland.

P. 24-27 REVENUE MANAGEMENT Should you be a revenue manager or a profit manager?

P. 22-23 FRONT COVER. President, Gavin Carroll, launches The Masquerade Ball. See details of our best mask competition on P. 4.

HOTPLATE Northern Ireland Hotels Federation The McCune Building, 1 Shore Road Belfast BT15 3PG Tel: 028 9077 6635 Web: nihf.co.uk Email: office@nihf.co.uk





fter a long hot summer, the first signs of Autumn are in the air and it’s time to reflect on the season just past. The weather was not the only thing that heated up this summer as the hotel market broke records with new openings and expansions. There are now 142 hotels in Northern Ireland bringing the number of rooms to 9,033. With growth comes opportunity; our hotel stock is well invested, we can attract larger conferences and events and there is greater choice for the visitor. It’s also a considerable vote of confidence in the local economy from the hotel sector, as it represents a £500m investment! At Hospitality Exchange we will launch an updated hotel report highlighting the economic contribution. I am delighted that we will also launch an industry forecast in conjunction with STR which we know will be of benefit to our members. It is important to view expansion positively, but it would be remiss not to mention some of the challenges we

face. Firstly, let’s consider staffing and skills. Each new hotel room represents one new job and an increase of 25% in rooms puts pressure on an already stretched talent pool. We have been working closely with stakeholders to address the issue. There will be new academies in Belfast, as well as a sector specific job and careers fair. The setting up of a collaborative network is also being explored. Secondly, more rooms require more guests. Last year was a good year but there are now an additional 425,000 rooms to sell annually. The NIHF has partnered with Tourism Northern Ireland on the ‘Say Hello to More’ campaign which has increased activity from the ROI market. It would be great to have a two-year integrated calendar for promotion to expand this market. This would allow us to plan and commit budgets in a collaborative way. Visitors from overseas have grown but we require a real step change to ensure that the significant investment made by the private sector was not in vain.

Last and certainly not least, support for the sector GAVIN CARROLL in terms President of a more favourable tax regime is imperative.The NIHF has called on government to address the current VAT rate which will allow us to compete on a more equal playing field. The Treasury is set to report back on its findings, in particular APD and the Apprenticeship Levy. This issue of Hotplate features the programme for Hospitality Exchange 2018 which takes place on 16th & 17th October in the Crowne Plaza Belfast. The event has a stellar line-up and presents an opportunity to hear firsthand about industry developments, meet up with colleagues and take time out of your business diary to enjoy some of the social aspects. All the details are online at hospitalityexchange.org.uk or simply call the NIHF office on 028 9077 6635 to book your tickets! I hope to see you all there.



» Lough Erne Resort hosted the Federation’s annual golf day in 2018. The event was supported by Henderson Foodservice and the winning team was Ciaran O’Neill and guests. Thanks to everyone who took part.

» The bi-annual member and trade lunch was held in the Crowne Plaza Belfast in June, the formal launch of Hospitality Exchange. Pictured are Avril Robson from Corick House Hotel with Michael Chapman of Ecolab and Siobhan Rushe from Bunzl Rafferty.



TRADING TREMORS NEW HOTEL FORECASTING TOOL TO BE LAUNCHED AT HOSPITALITY EXCHANGE, HELPING TO PLAN AT THIS TIME OF MAJOR EXPANSION Hotel rooms numbers have broken records throughout 2018 with double digit growth over the last year. This expansion has been well documented but recent statistics have shown a stutter in the market. On a year to date basis, KPI’s such as occupancy and room rate appear to be tracking last year’s performance. However, the summer has seen the wrong kind of heat in the market with occupancy falling in July by 7%. Room rate also came under pressure and market reports suggest that there has been a shudder in August as well. There is little doubt that a lot of new product creates both not only challenges but opportunities. Research has shown that most markets which experience rapid growth adjust in a period of around twenty four months. Demand rises to meet supply and new bedrooms allow destinations to open up to new markets. There are lessons to be learn from the last expansion phase which coincided

with a global recession and NIHF is working in partnership with STR to produce market intelligence to support members at this uncertain time.

Chief Executive

A measured and well supported forecast should be an invaluable tool for businesses and endeavours to highlight periods of real stress. This in turn allows businesses to plan accordingly. The forecast will be launched at the business breakfast at Hospitality Exchange 2018, which will also include the unveiling of an updated hotel expansion report presented by economist, Andrew Webb. The 2018 edition will outline the contribution of recent construction, the on-growing economic impact of the sector and highlight some of the challenges ahead

Don’t miss the Business Breakfast on Wednesday 17th October in the Crowne Plaza Belfast. STR will present their forecasting model and there’ll be discussions on the economy, hotel growth, key market insights and the very latest tourism performance data. Book online now at hospitalityexchange. co.uk.

The event will also feature a panel discussion on the findings of the report, issues arising in the market and the opportunities ahead.

WIN FLIGHTS TO VENICE As part of The Masquerade Ball at this year’s Hospitality Exchange, we have a very special prize for the best mask on the night.


While a costume is not a requisite for the evening, if you want to put in the effort you will have the chance of winning flights to Venice, Italy.

The prize includes return flights and the award will be made on the night of 17th October.




Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Deirdre Hargey, is joined by John McGrillen from Tourism NI, Stephen McGlew from Department for Communities, Rowan Geddes from Invest Northern Ireland and Gavin Carroll from Northern Ireland Hotels Federation for the launch of the Belfast Hospitality Careers and Job Fair.

The event takes place from 10am3pm on 26th September 2018 at St George’s Market and will give people the opportunity to meet more than 40 employers recruiting for hospitality and catering jobs.

Those who attend will also get free, practical advice on starting a career in the hospitality industry from employers and employment organisations. For more information visit www.belfastcity. gov.uk/hospitalityjobs



JURYS INN BELFAST » Jurys Inn has recently been awarded AA 4-star rating. The refurbishment of the 190 bedrooms and public areas will soon be enhanced by a further 80 air-conditioned bedrooms, due to open at the end of November. This will bring the number of rooms up to 270.

Email : suzanne_b





Tommy Stevenson, Gym Manager, has been shortlisted by The Northern Ireland Fitness Awards, sponsored by Centra, in the category “Gym Manager of the Year”. Tommy has over 20 year’s experience in managing both fitness facilities and sports teams.

The Londonderry Arms has been working with Avvio and Right Revenue on price structuring and rate management. Carol Glanville, Assistant Manager, has worked with them to manage availability, with Adrienne and Kirsty even providing support on changing the room names based on local landmarks such as Heritage and Glencloy.

Following a recent assessment from the AA, Bishop’s Gate Hotel has been given a coveted Rosette Award for the dining experience in The Gown restaurant. Ciaran O’Neill, Managing Director, says:

The hotel gym, The Armagh City Hotel Health & Fitness Club, has also been shortlisted by The Northern Ireland Fitness Awards in the category “Hotel Gym of the Year”. In addition, the Head Chef, John Whyte, is a finalist in the Food Heartland Awards and the Friary Restaurant has undergone a mystery shopping visit and is now a finalist in Best Licensed Eating Establishment.

The hotel has a new website going live soon and this will work with Avvio’s booking engine, especially on mobile devices where the hotel is seeing a lot more bookings coming from. Carol and Denise (Proprietor) also work with the ‘Glens” cluster to help cross-promote local business, especially when tying in to Game of Thrones.

“This is a huge accolade for an independently run boutique hotel and restaurant, which only opened its doors in 2016. A Rosette is awarded for the quality of the restaurant, the service provided and the standard and presentation of the food. Less than 10% of restaurants in the UK have a Rosette Award.” Ciaran adds: “I’m absolutely thrilled and I want to thank the fantastic team. Without them these endorsements would simply not have been possible.”



LOUGH ERNE RESORT » Lough Erne Resort released a tempting ice-cream buffet menu, in the wake of one of the UK’s hottest Summers to date. It featured locally made Glastry ice-cream, served with chocolate-coated waffle cones and a whole host of toppings.




The Bushmills Inn are celebrating being named ‘Northern Ireland’s Best Hotel Stay 2018’ in this year’s Northern Ireland Tourism Awards.

The Bushtown Hotel, Coleraine, has unveiled newly refurbished premises following a £300,000 investment supported by First Trust Bank. Revealing the results of Phase One of its expansion programme, the hotel’s reception area and all 39 bedrooms have been completely renovated to provide guests with a modern experience in comfortable surroundings.

Galgorm Resort & Spa was delighted to be have been selected to host the 2018 annual gala ceremony of The World Luxury Spa & Restaurant Awards. These awards were established as a celebration of ultimate achievement in service excellence.

Hotel Manager Alan Walls said, “We are thrilled to have won this extremely prestigious accolade, especially as this has been our 5th Northern Ireland Tourism Award in the past 4 years and our 3rd time winning ‘Hotel of the Year/ Best Hotel Stay’. We are extremely proud of all our team who continue to not only deliver, but also exceed our guests’ expectations and this achievement pays tribute to them all.” The special anniversary event, organised by Tourism NI in association with Diageo NI, was held at the Europa Hotel in Belfast, where the inaugural awards took place in 1978.

Kieran McGilligan and Dermot Friel owners of the Bushtown Hotel are pictured with Paul Herbison, Relationship Manager at First Trust Bank (centre) inside one of the newly refurbished bedrooms. Phase Two will see the hotel remodel its restaurant and public areas.

This was the first time the awards have been held in the UK or Ireland having previously been hosted in destinations such as Qatar, Vietnam, South Africa and Thailand. Galgorm scooped awards for The Spa at Galgorm – Best Luxury Countryside Spa (United Kingdom) and The River Room – Best Luxury Hotel Restaurant (Northern Europe).




ROE PARK RESORT In a first for Northern Ireland, the Roe Park Resort, Limavady has been revealed as Northern Ireland’s first autism friendly hotel following an endorsement from Assistance Dogs NI, who provide Assistance Dogs for children with autism and wheelchair users. The achievement follows the resort’s recent opening of an autism-friendly room for guests to stay in. Furthermore, staff in the resort have undergone training to help interact with guests with autism and other additional needs as part of an on-going partnership with Assistance Dogs NI. Fiona Burns-Kirby, who tried out the new room with her family commented:

“My son Joe has autism and we find it difficult to go away together as a family. I’m pleased to say it turned out to be a success. We could not have been more impressed by the spec for the autism-friendly suite. The hotel has made every possible accommodation to help facilitate a stay.” Other developments at the hotel include, the Ulster Rugby team completing their pre-season training camp over five days and a refurbishment plan starting in January 2019 with the Roe Park Suite. The refurbishment and expansion plans will also see the renovation of the restaurant, Greens, in early 2019 as well as a phased refurbishment of rooms.

MARINE HOTEL BALLYCASTLE The Marine Hotel in Ballycastle competed at the recent All Ireland Chowder Competition which was held in Kinsale. Head Chef Pol Shields was awarded 3rd Place – the only representative from NI to rank in the top 3.

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BELFAST Andras Hotels, has completed a £5million, 60-bedroom extension to the Holiday Inn Express. The Belfast hotel now benefits from the Holiday Inn Express ‘New Generation’ design concept, featuring a modern and ergonomic design. The new bedroom wing extends over three floors and includes two underground car parking decks and parking at surface level. Additionally, the lobby and dining areas have also had a makeover. Each new bedroom has stylish fresh modern decor featuring larger beds with premium bedding, increased connectivity and Smart TV, air-conditioning and elegant bathrooms.

KILLYHEVLIN LAKESIDE HOTEL The Killyhevlin collected the title of Best Use of Social Media for 2018 at the LCN Awards. Pictured with their award are Aidan Nicholson, Esther Parkinson, Patricia Kavanagh, Mandy Vance and David Morrison from Killyhevlin with Lauren Hetherington from sponsor, Northern Ireland’s Wedding Journal.


BY artisan

The new Onyx range by Artisan uses a ultra durable textured black glaze - at last a black glaze for the catering market that does not scuff or scratch. Not only does Artisan Onyx perform superbly it looks dramatic food looks incredible against the dark background.. Mix and match with Creme and Pebble to capture a perfect monochrome theme.





W E N *




Call: (NI) 028 3751 1999 (RoI) 048 3751 1999

Email: bmlinfo@bunzl.ie





One of the stars at this year’s Hospitality Exchange will be Phum Sila-Trakoon, a man of many facets and a global brand ambassador for Thomas Henry. Phum’s early fascination with food and drinks came about through his travels with his father. He had the opportunity to travel extensively and experience restaurants throughout the world. Phum says: “I was very lucky, my childhood travels allowed me to dip into the culinary world of many countries and to see first-hand how this forms the culture of a country. It instilled a real curiosity and gave me a hunger to explore the world of food and drink as a career. I have seen firsthand how businesses have struggled to marry the elements of food and drink. I am keen to ensure that drinks are more than just a concept and that there is a synergy between the two.” Phum continues: “I have a number of key influences in my life. One being, Simone Caporale, a former world bar tender of the year and the visionary behind the Artesian Bar at the Langham Hotel in London. It is important to be more than just the guy behind the bar. He’s done some great things and his philosophy of getting food and drink to work in tandem is a belief that I have incorporated into my projects.”

He also cites chef Grant Achatz of the three-star Michelin, Alinea in Chicago, as a real inspiration, adding: “Alinea is so much more than a restaurant. It is an experience where the line between food and drink is blurred. A visit is provocative pushing the boundaries of hospitality as we know it. Intrigue is part of its essence with constant reinvention being part of the appeal.” Phum has worked at a number of Berlin’s leading hospitality outlets helping them to create a better link between kitchen and bar. Most recently he has been working on a project with chef Sophia Ruduolf to create the internationally acclaimed Panama restaurant along with its sister drinks venue, Tiger Bar. At the heart of the project is Phum’s philosophy of positioning the venue as an experience taking food and drink to a new level. It sees kitchen and bar combining familiar ingredients with exotic accents and surprises, both embracing influence from other countries and cultures to create new flavours and contemporary richness. On future trends, Phum says: “There is lots of talk of new flavours: spice was very prominent and currently there has been a lot of noise around botanicals and flavours like elderflower, yuzu and bergamot. However, one interesting trend

driven by new destinations which perhaps do not have a history with spirits and cocktails is the quest for a quality drinking experience with a lower alcohol level. Many of these destinations are building up their tourism offer and are keen to offer a quality drinking experience.’’ When asked about his own drinks’ preference, he says: “for me nothing beats a simple fresh gin and tonic or an old-fashioned cocktail. I prefer mine on the sweet side with a splash of soda added to lighten it. “ Phum’s innovative style is well documented and in his interactive session at Hospitality Exchange, he will impart his thoughts on the new relationship between food and drink. We’ve challenged him to create a couple of cocktails matching some well-known local products. Don’t miss a great opportunity to hear from this key influencer and be inspired to raise your business to the next level!




IS THE FAIRYTALE OVER? LORNA HAGAN, CORPORATE BANKING MANAGER FOR HOSPITALITY & TOURISM AT FIRST TRUST BANK LOOKS AT THE RECENT HOTEL BOOM. Our local hospitality and tourism industry has often been described as Northern Ireland’s ‘Cinderella sector’ but this once neglected industry deserves to have a light shone on it following its recent successes and growth pipeline. The latest stats from market analyst STR paint a picture of a dynamic and optimistic marketplace with growth in all regions and strengthening performance indicators. Hotels are responsible for employing over 8,000 people with this figure set to grow to over 9,000 by the end of 2018, while generating total revenue in the region of £500m. Occupancy for Northern Ireland in 2017 was 77.7% (up 2.9% on the 2016 figures) with Belfast breaking the elusive 80% mark and room rates growing to £79.83. News of expansion has dominated the headlines over the last year with many of our own customers across the region – from Fermanagh to Ballymena – embarking on growth programmes. These results tally with our own experience with customers of all sizes across the board experiencing a growth in demand as businesses modernise or expand their operations. We have seen hotels add spa and leisure facilities, holiday cottages create new over-night experiences and self-catering premises add restaurants and bars. There is an inherent creativity and resilience in our local hospitality sector but there is no escaping from the challenges that exist, particularly as they are likely to impact future growth plans. Like all fairy tales, dark clouds loom on the horizon. Bill Wolsey, local business magnate and owner of Ireland’s largest

hospitality group, the Beannchor Group, recently stated that his business “won’t be starting anything new in Northern Ireland until we have gotten over the two difficulties of Brexit and not having a government. Both are hugely problematic and businesses don’t like uncertainty.” The latest results from our AIB Brexit Sentiment Index reveals that almost 50% of Northern Ireland businesses who had investment plans pre Brexit, have postponed or cancelled those plans due to Brexit. As we unofficially surpass the record for the longest peacetime period without a government, the hospitality and tourism sector – like many others – is in need of a functioning Executive to help steady the ship and make key decisions. We only have to take the recent example of the room size issue facing Belfast’s easyHotel to see how the lack of decision making is having an impact on expansion plans. Many areas are still facing a seasonal challenge and a fragile performance in shoulder seasons, which is then reflected in poor occupancy and a deflated room rate. To overcome this, many of our clients are keen to foster a ‘linger longer’ approach by linking their offerings into local events and activities. We can see the success of this approach particularly around the North Coast, with guests staying longer or returning following golf tournaments. Suppliers, providers and operators are collaborating closer to promote this ‘visit and stay’ mantra – promoting local pubs, festivals, restaurants and activities. Recent marketing campaigns by Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland have also adopted this strategy and will hopefully contribute to better off-season success.

There are a number of challenges for the industry, but staffing remains the primary cause for concern. We know that employers are experiencing issues with recruitment and retention, with a lack of skilled personnel and perception of working in the industry acting as contributory factors. Given recent expansion, this issue will be exacerbated and potentially could constrain growth. Collaboration with education providers therefore also needs to be a priority and again, another issue that would benefit from the oversight of a functioning local Executive. Recently we have seen some sector initiatives established to help avert a predicted severe skills shortage in the hospitality sector with a dedicated hospitality recruitment company established, and a new apprenticeship initiative between the Northern Regional College and the Galgorm Resort and Spa. If there is anything we can learn from fairy tales it is that no one can overcome challenges alone and at First Trust Bank, we too are keen to collaborate and play our part to help nurture local businesses growth plans. From working with supply companies to heavy-weight hotels and boutique B&Bs, we know first-hand the unique and wider challenges the hospitality sector faces and we are committed to working closely with our customers and the industry as a whole to help realise its potential. This includes funding support, business planning and indeed Brexit planning.


Hotel Growth (Part 2) HOTPLATE SPEAKS TO MORE HOTELIERS ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF EXPANDING IN TODAY’S MARKETPLACE Another milestone has been reached for the hotel sector in Northern Ireland as room numbers break the 9,000 mark in September. The majority of projects that have been in planning are now completed. A number of key developments will also come on stream in early 2019. Over £450m has been invested to date in hotels and that figure will break the £500m in early 2019. There are now 142 hotels in Northern

Ireland. Forty-one are in Belfast providing 5,000 rooms. In 2019, DerryLondonderry is set to grow from its current stock of 686 bedrooms to approximately 800.

be launched at Hospitality Exchange at the Business Breakfast, along with an in depth forecast of the Northern Ireland market from leading benchmarking company, STR.

A number of regions are reporting renewed interest in hotel development and interesting times lie ahead as tourism plays an increasingly important role in Northern Ireland’s economy. An updated report on Hotel Expansion will

The Hotplate team has caught up with the latest entrants to the market to see how their openings have gone, what the challenges have been and their thoughts on business to date.



Fitzwilliam Hotel The Fitzwilliam Hotel which opened in 2009 is described as a five-star, super elegant masterpiece in the heart of Belfast. Its prime location beside the Grand Opera House on Great Victoria Street and its redefining of a boutique hotel gives the property a unique position in the Belfast hotel market. The property has recently undergone a period of refurbishment and expansion and Cian Landers, General Manager at the Fitzwilliam says: “Since the Fitzwilliam opened in 2009, it has strived to give our customers a stand out hotel experience with welcoming hospitality in contemporary, luxurious surrounds. The latest addition of guest room adds more variety while remaining true to the values of brilliant design and five-star luxury.” He continues: “Introducing building works into a busy city centre on a 5-star operation isn’t the easiest of projects. While managing the works on the hotel has been challenging, we strive to ensure our customer experience isn’t compromised as experience, quality and luxury are at the heart of everything we do at the Fitzwilliam Belfast.” The Fitzwilliam has a sister property in Dublin and the consensus from

Cian is that: “Being a Fitzwilliam Hotel in partnership with Preferred Hotels has been integral to the success of the Fitzwilliam Belfast. Locally, the Fitzwilliam brand is synonymous with quality, contemporary design, excellent service and offers something different from the crowd. On an international level, our corporate and leisure guests recognise the great rewards and benefits that Preferred Hotels confer on us as an internationally recognised LVX fivestar Luxury Hotel. The brand gives us in-depth strength with experienced Hospitality Management expertise complemented by the latest in systems management practice.” He continues: “People really make this hotel stand out. We have the luxury and support of a brand, coupled with the freedom to create a unique experience. My favourite thing about the Fitzwilliam Belfast is that the hotel has a personality all of its own, which is reflected in the people who work and stay here, making each day a pleasure.” Despite the challenges of the building project, Cian reports that the hotel has had an exceptional first six months, adding: “As visitor numbers continue to grow for Belfast and Northern Ireland, we are excited for our future, especially as the highly anticipated new penthouse suite will open later this year. We are

optimistic and can’t wait to see what the future holds.’’ A major challenge for the business remains the high level of VAT charged on hotel services which Cian feels CIAN LANDERS Fitzwilliam Hotel is possibly the biggest challenge: “A reduction in VAT could make a huge difference to our industry creating more employment and stimulating further growth in visitor numbers to Northern Ireland. We have seen how successful it has been in the ROI market and I think it would be a great support to the Northern Ireland hotel industry. We could really offer the best of the best in hotels and hospitality, helping attract many new visitors to the country.”




Andras House The Andras House Group is one of Northern Ireland’s largest hotel groups with a total of seven hotels in their portfolio. Their properties cover a range of international brands operated under franchise in the Greater Belfast area. Vicky Green, Associate Director of Business Development at Andras House gives Hotplate an insight into their expansion activity: ‘It’s certainly been a busy time for all of the team at Andras Group. We’ve just opened the first Hampton by Hilton Hotel in Ireland which represents a £12million investment creating 60 jobs. The brand new building is a nine-story, 178-bedroom hotel located on Hope Street, just off Great Victoria Street in Belfast city centre.” Hampton is a real coup for Andras and Vicky expands: “Global recognition and quality are key but you must have the right brand to back this up. Hampton by Hilton has been ranked as the number one lodging franchise for the last nine years. Our guests trust and love the brand so with over 2,300 properties worldwide it means they stay brand loyal wherever they are. My favourite thing about the brand is “Hamptonality”, the name for our brand hospitality which is an integral part of the hotel offering. There are lots of new products in Belfast but it’s our friendly, authentic, caring and thoughtful personality which sets Hampton by Hilton apart. Oh and of course the famous Hampton Waffle, so with breakfast included for every guest, everyone can enjoy this tasty treat.” “We certainly hit the ground running and the momentum shows no signs of slowing down. The combination of demand for Belfast and a fantastic brand has meant we have been delighted to welcome local, national and international visitors since opening. Guests love to try something new and being the first Hampton by Hilton in Ireland is very exciting. Couple that with a prime central location and we expect 2018 to be a great year.” The Andras story doesn’t end there. A number of other hotels have also seen significant investment. Vicky adds: “We have also recently completed a £5million, 60-bedroom extension to the Holiday Inn Express Belfast City which benefits from the ‘New Generation’ design concept, featuring a modern and ergonomic design. The new bedroom wing extends over three floors and includes two underground car parking decks and parking at surface level. Additionally, the lobby and dining areas have also had the ‘New Generation’ makeover, providing integrated design and flexible dining.”

She continues: “Crowne Plaza Belfast has also completed the first phase of a £5million investment programme in guest bedrooms at the multi award-winning, four-star property located at Shaw’s Bridge. This is the final VICKY GREEN Andras House stage of the Crowne Plaza investment programme which, over the past three years, has seen an upgrade of all public areas including a complete refurbishment of the Grand Ballroom, Malone and Laganview wedding suites, a remodelling of the lobby and creation of the Great Oak Conference Centre.” Like many hoteliers undergoing major expansion, Vicky notes the importance of people: “Recruitment was always going to be the biggest challenge but I’m delighted to say we have been able to put together a fantastic team. Team development is a massive focus for our company and is supported by the Andras Academy which has allowed us not only to recruit new staff but develop internally which is vital for retention.” In a similar vein to many contributors, Vicky says the one thing government could do to support the industry would be: “Cut tourism VAT. The UK is currently one of only three out of 36 European countries not to take advantage of a reduced rate for selected tourism services. Northern Ireland is also the only part of the UK that has a land border with a jurisdiction with lower VAT and this negatively impacts the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland tourism sector relative to the rest of the island.”





Grand Central Hotel Northern Ireland’s largest hotel, Grand Central opened in June of this year. The Grand Central is the seventh hotel in the Hastings Hotels Group. The project started in 2015 when the Hastings Hotels Group purchased Windsor House, one of Ireland’s tallest commercial buildings and set about transforming the 1974 property into a luxury 300 bedroomed hotel. Graham Construction were tasked with the associated works with RPP Architects looking after the design and feel of the hotel. Stephen Meldrum is General Manager of the Grand Central Hotel and is responsible for its day-to-day management. Having worked for Hastings Hotels for over 16 years, Stephen previously managed the Ballygally Castle Hotel, the Everglades Hotel, the Culloden Estate and Spa and prior to his appointment at Grand Central, the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa. Stephen is full of enthusiasm about his latest charge: “The Hastings Group is one of Northern Ireland’s largest indigenous hotel groups and the property draws on local history as its inspiration. The Grand Central is a hotel which exudes personality, with its bedroom suites paying homage to the Linen Barons who first occupied the Linen Quarter in which the Grand Central sits, to the

late Sir William Hastings, the founder of the Hastings Hotels Group, who have delivered this new project. The Grand Central’s personality is further enhanced by its sense of being at the epicentre of all that is Belfast, adopting as it has the Seahorse logo which in turn belonged to the ‘old’ Grand Central Hotel in Royal Avenue. This Seahorse is most vividly depicted in the hotel’s Seahorse Restaurant in a specially commissioned eye-catching illustration which deconstructs the official Belfast crest, featuring Chichester’s wolf and the Seahorse and their contribution to the founding of the City.” Stephen continues: “Being one of the tallest buildings on the island of Ireland means that the views from many of the bedrooms and of course, the Observatory, on the 23rd floor, are truly spectacular – this is one of my favourite things about the hotel.” Stephen has overseen a number of high profile events including the Irish Open but when asked what challenges unfolded in his latest role, he said: “The Grand Central is the largest hotel in Northern Ireland and the biggest and most expensive project delivered by the Hastings Hotels Group to date. After the hotel project was initially launched, the Group helped to secure the prestigious Hosts Global Forum, in a combined effort with Tourism NI and Moloney & Kelly, which meant the hotel had to be opened

on a specific date, as we were hosting this group of highprofile international delegates. But it was a challenge that we met with gusto and the hotel was opened on schedule.” STEPHEN MELDRUM

He continues: “Being Grand Central Hotel part of the Hastings Group has given the hotel greater marketing advantages, established customer awareness, not to mention the added support of staffing and expertise which can be utilised during the opening phase. Business has been strong with huge interest in the property from both the corporate and leisure sectors. 2018 will be in line with our projections and December is looking particularly strong for us.” Looking to the future and support for the industry, Stephen adds: “It is difficult to narrow this down to one factor. A more competitive VAT rate to enable us to compete with our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland would definitely help our sector. Training is another key area to consider with more focus on industry needs. Finally, an increase in investment to promote Northern Ireland to help attract more visitors would be of benefit.”






8.30 - 9.30 | FREE

14.00 | £35


Start the day the relaxing way. Beat the traffic, enjoy breakfast for free and explore the exhibition.

FOOD AND DRINK 10.00 | £35

A morning dedicated to food and drink with Roux Scholar and Simon Rogan’s right hand man, Harry Guy; industry legend Marco Pierre White; The Liquid Chef, mixologist, Phum SilaTrakoon; and Marcus Wareing’s chef patron, Shauna Froydenlund.

BUFFET LUNCH 12.45 | £15

Local produce showcased by the Crowne Plaza kitchen for Tuesday’s casual lunch.

DESTINATION REPUTATION Need more visitors and not sure what they are looking for? Hear first hand from TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet plus an extraordinary insight to travel, amazing destinations and the future from journalist, international globetrotter and food critic, Giles Coren.


The wind-down to day one includes a glass of wine and a networking opportunity.

EXHIBITION 8.30 - 17.00 | FREE

Over 50 exhibitors will be on site with some very special offers at the free exhibition, which is open from 8.30am – 5pm.







NIHF has commissioned STR to produce a study forecasting hotel performance in Northern Ireland. How will your business measure up?

Join us for lunch and gain a political insight into how tourism operates south of the border – why and how it’s central to Government thinking and the support it receives.

8.00 | £25


Record business levels in 2017, 25% increase in hotel rooms, Brexit and an on-going skills crisis. There’s a lot going on and you need to be in the know!

EXHIBITION 9.00 - 14.00 | FREE

The free exhibition with over 50 exhibitors is open from 9am to 2pm, so just pop in whenever you want.

13.00 | £35



A magical evening celebrating the timeless elegance of Venice including food, wine and entertainment with a definite Italian twist.


Tickets for all events can be booked online at hospitalityexchange.co.uk. If you need assistance, give us a call on 028 9077 6635.






WHY A REVENUE MANAGER SHOULD BE A PROFIT MANAGER ADRIENNE HANNA OF RIGHT REVENUE ON THE CHANGING FACE OF REVENUE MANAGEMENT. Back in the bad old days when I first started in revenue, the discipline was called Yield Management. In those not-so-distant days we were seen as just yielding rates. Moving rates up and down with demand along with an ongoing battle that was occupancy versus rate. We then progressed to Revenue Management. This certainly was a step in the right direction as the role was seen to encompass ‘all things revenue’ and that meant understanding how to actually turn on and turn off business. Basic Revenue Management such as applying length of stay restrictions or restricting channels came into play but perhaps more importantly, Revenue Managers started to be seen as a central role and one which sales and marketing should look to for support. Revenue Managers started to play an integral role in all decision making which packages Marketing wanted to promote; when Pay per Click campaigns were released; which display ads were required; which corporate contracts Sales actually allowed; which sales channels and OTA’s the Sales team signed up for; which GDS channel was used; control of offline marketing; which tour groups were taken - the list could go on. Today we are seeing the discipline change again. Revenue Managers are now Profit Managers. So what does this mean? Well, a Profit Manager understands how to react to pricing using dozens of internal and external metrics, but that is just the first step. The next step is to understand

the cost of acquisition; then equate that to the rate that was paid; then add incremental spend that this source or segment brought you. I call this the Revenue Sandwich. Think of the filling as the rate paid - the bottom layer as the cost of receiving that booking and the top layer as the profitability. How does this stack up? You may have a particular source of business that is expensive to bring in but that pays a higher rate and spends in your bars and restaurants. Now pitch this against a small meeting event which perhaps paid a lower rate, but cost very little to acquire and actually gains a chunk of revenue for the hotel in meeting space. Hoteliers call this many things - Adjusted ADR / GOPPAR - (gross profit per available room) but I prefer to think of this purely as ProfPar - my profit per available room. Take the price - strip out the cost and add on the spend. What does this tell you? Secondly, a Profit Manager understands which channels book and when they book. They can track booking curves and plot this against rate. They know when to hold out for profitable business and when that business simply isn’t there. In revenue terms this is price elasticity - when you can push for rate and when the market simply can’t stretch. This decision can however impact Revenue Managers that work in brand hotels as they often find rates influenced by customers purchasing via loyalty programmes. These customers can often dilute higher rated business and the cost of buying loyalty should always be factored into profitability. A Profit Manager will also understand yielding contracted business (yes you



can!!!) and how restrictive LRA contracts can be - these will all be measured and their business impact understood. And what about day of week behaviour? A Profit Manager will understand guests who for example stay multiple nights and include days of high and low demand. These guests will have differing impact on costs to those who stay purely on days of high demand. Even simple metrics like late check-outs and early arrivals should be factored into overall profitability. And consider perhaps a residential group in-house with less house-keeping costs and some meeting room spend, how do these guys stack up revenue wise? In all cases, if it effects price, count it! The most obvious one as I have mentioned above, is the incremental spend. A Profit Manager will understand which segments and sources impact the business positively or negatively and this is never a shot in the dark! A Profit Manager will have facts and figures


to back this up. And where do these come from? Well the days of dozens of spreadsheets are thankfully well and truly gone. Revenue Management systems are here to stay and provide a huge support to all things revenue. However, all of this data starts with your PMS. If you have poor data going in, you have poor metrics coming out. So I urge you all to review your PMS segments and sources. If you truly want to get a handle on profit, start at the very beginning and get the data right. Do I think the title Profit Manager will take off? No, not really. But do I think the importance of the profit metric will? Absolutely! Stop asking your Revenue Manager to just move rates. Stop judging him/her on your overall commission percentage. Allow them to do their job and that is to make your business more profitable.

Right Revenue is a data analysis, demand forecasting and rate recommendation software tool, designed specifically for the Hospitality sector. Built primarily using complex Machine Learning algorithms, Right Revenue will return business decisions based on a hotel’s own unique business patterns as well as business critical external influencers such as competitor rate strategy and event impact. Built by Revenue Managers for Revenue Managers, Right Revenue does the ‘smarts’ so you can concentrate on the strategy.



THE FOOD HEARTLAND The Borough of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon is the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland, the home of passionate producers and quality creators. Vibrant and outward looking with a strong international focus, a wealth of exporting knowledge and open for business on a global scale, the Council has identified the agri-food sector as one of its priority growth sectors and established The Food Heartland to promote the region’s offer. Proud home of two PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status products in Lough Neagh Eels and the worldfamous Armagh Bramley Apple, one PDO (Product of Geographical Origin) – Lough Neagh pollan, and a worldclass cider cluster, those involved in the hospitality, tourism and agri-food sectors have much to be proud of. From specialist artisan producers to household brands and global names, the area boasts winners of innumerable awards, from Great Taste and Irish Food Awards to Georgina Campbell Restaurant gongs. The region is characterised by a rich environment of prime agricultural land, making it the natural home to an abundance of specialist artisan food and drink producers and household names including: Tayto, Moy Park, Irwin’s Bakery, Cottage Catering, Linwoods, Fane Valley, White’s and Wilson’s Country, Armagh Cider Company and Long Meadow Cider to name a few.

It’s no exaggeration to describe Armagh as the beating heart of Northern Ireland’s burgeoning food scene with an abundance of food, drink and hospitality businesses of the highest quality and most personable service welcoming local and international visitors year-round. The Council’s Food Heartland Forum, launched in April 2015, continues to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship within the agri-food industry throughout the borough, as well as enhancing the tourism experience and expanding local agri-food exports. The Forum is made up of producers, cottage industries and chefs from leading eateries and support bodies including Food NI, DARD and Southern Regional College, who work together to drive the sector forward. The Food Heartland initiative provides an unrivalled platform to showcase the Borough’s thriving agri-food sector, not just locally but on a global scale. Further supported by The Food Heartland Awards which recognise the hard work, passion and commitment to business excellence, championing and celebrating the passion, quality, innovation and success across the thriving food, drink and hospitality sector throughout the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon borough. Being part of the ‘Food Heartland’ emphasises innovative food and drink producers to allow them to build confidence in their work and ambition

and to properly utilise any and all support that is provided by the council. The primary objective for the Food Heartland is to raise awareness of the world class produce, quality cooking and unique dining experiences throughout the region. A signature event in the calendar is the annual Food & Cider Festival. Held at prestigious and unique venues at peak harvest time across the borough, the four-day festival encapsulates the essence of Armagh and its commitment to the provenance and quality of its produce. Showcasing the apple orchards, their ciders, juices and how the locally grown and reared produce feeds the wider economy, the Festival positions Armagh strongly in the international visitor marketplace. The Food Heartland collaboration continues to evolve between the council, local producers, chefs and stakeholders who have worked together to brand the borough and champion local food and drink.



Ask your UFS representative about our table top caddies



FOOD TOU GETTING OUT OF THE FRYING PAN TO PROMOTE FOOD AND DRINK AS MUST-SEE PARTS OF NORTHERN IRELAND TOURISM. Food is playing an increasingly important role in the world of tourism. It’s not just about fine dining or an elitist experience of gourmet dining. It’s about good food, well served and great culinary experiences. Everything is on the menu, from street food to authentic home inspired dishes. Today’s visitor is looking for “a good food and beverage experience” which features local produce and authentic dishes which reflect the destination they are visiting. In a recent survey carried out after the Year of Food and Drink, the food experience was rated as important to the majority (63%) of respondents when taking a short break. The short break market is a key focus for Northern Ireland and using food and drink to enhance tourism growth seems a solid approach. Significant advances have already been made with increased culinary choice and many new experiences entering the “Food Tourism” arena. There are multiple food tours, a plethora of brewery/distillery attractions and a newly found confidence in local produce. In addition to gaining two Michelin star restaurants in 2016, over 200 restaurants have opened since then with tourist spend on food and drink sitting at £350m. Adding this figure to the contribution of the local population, you have a one billion pound plus industry. In order to maximise the potential of food tourism, we need to make sure that Northern Ireland is known for more than just the Ulster Fry.

Putting on the pan may resonate well with the local population. However, the secret is to talk about its component parts: free range eggs, locally smoked bacon, artisan sausages and the soda farl on the side; that will help us attract visitors who are keen to eat and explore. This is not knocking our great traditional breakfast but a recognition that we need to set out our stall differently and speak with pride about what we have on offer. There is no reason to despair. Visitors do speak highly of local food, but this is after they have visited. They note that it exceeded their expectations, yet few speak about it being the impetus to visit. The Year of Food and Drink increased awareness of what we have on offer but was only the start of the journey. A number of products have gained recognition through the Great Taste awards and protected status of origin (DOP). The confidence that a Comber spud and an Armagh apple can compete with Champagne and Camembert in the world of food tourism will really help us become a top food destination. It’s important to look at new trends, explore opportunities but remain loyal to the finest local ingredients. Our products are exported throughout the world and receive a great reception. We have a real opportunity to welcome visitors and let them taste local produce at source. Adding food-led events, creating culinary interest on media platforms and continuing to harvest the goodwill we have built up, can only add to the success of this increasingly important element of tourism.

INTERESTED IN FOOD TOURISM? Come along to this year’s Hospitality Exchange to see the culinary stars in the 2018 line-up. Get the inside track on food trends, culinary challenges and tips on how to increase business.





Culinary Revolutionary Michelin Star Chef will create a gourmet dinner to mark the start of the 19th Hospitality Exchange with dishes from his brand new book, Rogan!


Another Derry Girl Success Chef Patron at Michelin Star restaurant Marcus in London demonstrates the culinary skill that has made her a leading figure in the London “Murphia”.


Awarding winning Roux Scholar Chef & Operations Manager of Simon Rogan Restaurants, Harry explores new ingredients and showcases the “Rogan” food philosophy.


Acclaimed Food Critic Award-winning restaurant critic and columnist shares his amazing experiences, great eats and talks about what the future holds.


Chef & Industry Legend The original culinary bad boy speaks about survival, a 30-year career and solving the chef shortage.


The Liquid Chef Raising the bar on the beverage experience and creating cocktails to match your menu!


BEER HOTELS. » Scottish craft brewer, Brew Dog, has just opened its first beer hotel in Columbus, Ohio. The 32-bedroom hotel is part of a new US brewery. They plan to follow with a similar hotel in home county, Aberdeenshire, in early 2019.




Rossharbour, a family-run lakeside resort in Fermanagh is celebrating its latest expansion following a £1 million investment with support from First Trust Bank.

Best Western Hotels & Resorts has announced the first Sure Hotel Collection in Ireland, the Green Isle Hotel, located just 10 kilometres from Dublin City centre.

Since opening in 2017, Titanic Hotel Belfast has welcomed over 55,000 overnight guests through its doors, giving an average occupancy rate above 80%.

Situated on the shores of lower Lough Erne, Rossharbour has completed extensive landscaping across its six acres of land and added 3 luxury self-catering lodges to the site, bringing accommodation capacity up to 84 guests. The resort now boasts 4 unique glamping pods each with a private hot-tub, 5 wigwams as well as six family-sized cottages.

Karl de Lacy, from Best Western commented, “the addition of the Green Isle Hotel to the brand in Ireland shows our flexibility and ability to work with well-established properties in the market, not only can the Green Isle Hotel continue to take advantage of the power of their own domestic brand recognition, they can now enjoy additional international business opportunities.”

Visitors came to the hotel from 85 different countries around the world, curious to find out more about Titanic and the Belfast workers who built the famous ship. Hotel Manager, Adrian McNally, believes this unrivalled historic appeal has proved attractive to both local and international guests. “We have welcomed thousands of guests eager to explore the history of the ship and 12 months after opening, still have people visiting the hotel every day to find out more about Harland and Wolff and the Titanic Quarter. “Our food and beverage offering has proved to be successful with local diners, too. We have catered for over 95,000 across our Drawing Office Two bar, Wolff Grill restaurant and Heritage banqueting rooms.”


OLD HOTEL Not so much “news”, the oldest hotel in the world first opened in 705AD and has been passed down within the same family for 52 generations. Guinness World Records has officially recognised the Japanese property as the oldest continuously running hotel in the world.

ROBOT RECEPTIONISTS Staying in Japan, the reception at the Henn na Hotel east of Tokyo is eerily quiet until customers approach the robot dinosaurs manning the front desk. Their sensors detect the motion and they bellow “Welcome”. It might be about the weirdest check-in experience possible, but that’s exactly the point at the Henn na (whose name means “weird”) chain, which bills itself as offering the world’s first hotels staffed by robots. The front desk staff are a pair of giant dinosaurs that look like cast members of the Jurassic Park movies, except for the tiny bellboy hats perched on their heads.

WHAT MAKES A HOTEL? A HOTEL BY ANY OTHER NAME IS NOT A HOTEL. The recent accommodation openings in Belfast with properties designated as ‘guest accommodation’ rather than a hotel has led to much discussion around the legal requirements of a hotel. Easyhotel hit the headlines in June of this year when Tourism NI refused to grant the premises certification as a hotel due to its rooms not complying with the requirements of the Categories of Tourist Establishment (Statutory Criteria) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1992. Firstly, it is illegal for tourist accommodation to operate without certification from Tourism NI. In order to classify as a hotel in Northern Ireland, premises must; i. Have at least 15 double bedrooms, 75% of which must have an ensuite bathroom ii. Room size, A floor to ceiling height not less than 2.44m and a floor area (excluding any ensuite bathroom) of: a. In the case of a single room not less than 7.5 square metres; or b. In the case of a double room not less that 13 square metres iii. provide breakfast, midday and evening meals as well as refreshments iv. provide a maid service for regular cleaning of bedrooms.


If any of these conditions are not met, then the premises cannot be classed as a hotel.

The XVIII Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championships was held in September, representing a first for this prestigious event in Northern Ireland. The Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh was host venue and welcomed the many competing teams.

In addition, there are certain regulations concerning the construction and design of the premises, the number and size of its public entrances, stairways and reception areas, the size, capacity and provision of facilities and


ADVICE. » Contact the NIHF on 028 9077 6635 for advice or Seamus McGranaghan at O’Reilly Stewart on 028 9032 1000.

equipment of its dining and lounge areas, public toilets, kitchen and bedrooms. One of the issues highlighted with recent properties was that of the bedroom sizes which is a specific regulation of hotels. According to the legislation, single bedrooms must be at least 7.5 square metres and double bedrooms 13 square metres. Other requirements include door locking, electrical sockets, cupboard space, bedside chairs and tables among others. However, among other differences, guest houses do not have the same requirement in terms of bedroom sizes. Guest house bedrooms need only to be ‘of adequate size for the number of visitors the room is intended to hold.’ Operators of all categories of guest accommodation also require additional statutory approvals such as planning permission, compliance with fire safety and health and safety legislation, building control approval. These matters are dealt with by the various statutory authorities but Tourism NI will require confirmation that they are in place before certification can be issued, in addition to the matters set out above. When opening a hotel or other tourist accommodation, it is important to engage with Tourism NI as early as possible to ensure that all building plans and schemes are in line with the intended use of the premises. Further advice and assistance can also be obtained from O’Reilly Stewart or the NIHF.

See us at The Hospitality Exchange See Guestline’s cloud-based, award-winning software for hospitality businesses on Stand No. 7 October 16th & 17th

Multi-functional property management system (PMS)

Channel distribution

Digital marketing solutions

Integration with leading 3rd party applications

Tokenisation for PCI compliance

guestline.com/he For more information, get in touch today: Clio O’Gara, Country Manager - Ireland | clio.o’gara@guestline.com | 00353872889876 | +44 1743 282 300


Conference & Banqueting


Open API’s

Secure Payments

Digital Marketing

Online Bookings





SHOP AROUND AND LOOK AT EFFICIENCIES TO SAVE ON ENERGY COSTS After a period of stability and relatively low prices, the cost of generating electricity is now considerably higher than this time last year and suppliers across the UK and Ireland have been announcing price increases. A major change to the wholesale electricity market is also scheduled to happen in October 2018 with the introduction of the Integrated Single Electricity Market. Alan Egner, Commercial Sales & Marketing Manager at Power NI comments: “The extreme weather across Europe this year brought an increase in the demand for energy, and for gas in particular. The ‘Beast from the East” followed by a scorching summer, coupled with production and supply chain issues, led to quite a bit of volatility in the fuel markets, with prices at times reaching record highs. This, of course, has an impact on these shores, with gas being the main fuel used in local power stations. “There is some comfort in that, compared to our closest neighbours, electricity prices here for the vast majority of local businesses remain at or below the European average and are considerably cheaper than in the Republic of Ireland and GB. “After a delayed launch, the Integrated Single Electricity Market (or I-SEM) is due to go live in October. The main aims

of I-SEM are to strengthen the security of supply and deliver increased levels of competition in the wholesale market, which should help create a downward pressure on prices.” Alan continues, “Power NI is ready to embrace the opportunities that the I-SEM will undoubtedly bring, by providing a wider range of products that will deliver even better value. Working with new systems and sourcing electricity from new markets will no doubt have its challenges, but the end result should be deals that are more competitive for our customers.” So what can hospitality businesses do to keep energy bills as low as possible? Alan has some practical advice. “If your contract is up for renewal, make sure to shop around and get a few prices for comparison. Ask to see both fixed and variable price options and then decide whether you want to track the market or lock-in at today’s rates to protect yourself from further potential increases. Power NI has produced a free Buyer’s Guide, which offers tips on how to get the best energy deal for your business. As with all business decisions, there is an element of risk involved, but at least if you go in with your eyes open and ask the right questions, you are in with a better chance of getting a good deal.

“Finally, we all know that being energy efficient can make a big difference to our bills. Low energy lighting, wall and loft insulation and energy efficient appliances are all tried and tested ways to save the pennies. Power NI, with support from the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme, offers grants to help with the cost of converting to LED lighting and installing Variable Speed Drives which greatly reduce the amount of electricity used by motors, pumps and fans. The Carbon Trust has also produced an energy saving guide tailored to hotels and the hospitality industry, which is available to download free from their website at www.carbontrust.com/resources.” “Energy is essential and we believe in making it simple. At Power NI you can trust us to give you competitive rates, make it easy for you to manage your account and have expert local support on hand when you need us.” Power NI supplies around 35,000 businesses and is the largest electricity provider in Northern Ireland. They have produced a free Buyer’s Guide to electricity at www.powerni.co.uk/businessplans. To switch your Business Energy back to Power NI, visit www.powerni.co.uk/ welcomehome or call the Business Hotline on 03457 455 455 (option 4).







Profile for Northern Ireland Hotels Federation

Hotplate September 2018  

All the details on Hospitality Exchange, new hotels, revenue management and more.

Hotplate September 2018  

All the details on Hospitality Exchange, new hotels, revenue management and more.

Profile for nihf

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded