Business professionals engaging in hotel

Key takeaways from the 2023 Irish Hotel Federation Annual Conference

Business professionals engaging in hotel

Aiden Murphy of Crowe Ireland provides key takeaways from the Irish Hotel Federation Annual Conference 2023.

This year’s Irish Hotels Federation Conference was titled “Sustainable Development – A Shared Vision” and focused on the sector’s need to become more environmentally friendly and more attractive to employees as it continues to expand.

The conference signposted a positive trading outlook for 2023 with strengthening demand for both domestic and international markets. Looking forward to 2024, the re-opening of the China market should deliver a boost in numbers, while likely new gateway routes into North America will allow that market to grow further. Overall, the sector seems to be in a new growth cycle since 2022, albeit with a number of macroeconomic capacity constraints that could impact the full potential for growth.

One of the major capacity constraints facing the sector is housing, as with the expansion of the economy creating more employment, without affordable places to live staff will not be able to take those open positions.

There are also concerns about electricity grid capacity, as it is predicted the demand for power may start to exceed supply and Ireland could find itself facing blackouts. This could lead to reputational damage for the country.

Another issue for the sector is that as Ireland comes closer to full employment, continued wage inflation pressures and the need to pass on cost increases to hotel guests and other hospitality customers could create a perception that Ireland’s offering is no longer good value for money, leading international guests to go elsewhere.

There was much discussion by industry insiders on initiatives within the sector to address these concerns, including:

  • Widespread rollout of sustainability projects, including solar panels
  • Heat pumps to provide heating
  • Staff engagement programmes to target and reduce hotels’ carbon footprints
  • A renewed focus on employee welfare, coaching and shift flexibility
  • New leadership initiatives to create better employee/employer relationships

The conference was also addressed by two expert speakers: Dr Martyn Newman, PhD, DPsych, a consulting psychologist with an international reputation as an expert in emotional intelligence and leadership development; and Ronan O’Gara, former Ireland international and head coach of La Rochelle rugby team, who has won numerous accolades as a team player and team coach operating in high-pressure situations. They stressed the need for staff to be able to feel that their job is fulfilling and purposeful – people are problem-solvers, and setting up tasks with this in mind will improve work satisfaction and encourage staff to develop more of an interest in their role.

In terms of setting up tasks, they encouraged being specific on a few key aspects of what needs to be done and having team members confirm the ask. Doing this, and practicing tasks in training scenarios, will lead to better performance when the pressure is on and create a better team spirit where individuals are working for and supporting each other rather than being purely self-focused.

They believe there is more of a focus on the immediate timeframe and career development for the next 12 months rather than what might happen in five years’ time and communication with staff can be enhanced and improved through use of IT platforms that often are seen as being less pressured and stressful as a communication tool with employees.

Naoise Cosgrove, Managing partner - Crowe Ireland
Naoise Cosgrove
Managing Partner
Corporate Finance
Partner, Corporate Recovery - Crowe Ireland
Aiden Murphy
Corporate Recovery
Clodagh O'Brien, Partner, Consulting - Crowe Ireland
Clodagh O'Brien
Partner, Consulting