From predictions for 2019 and expenses payments to mental health, the HBAA delivered a packed programme to a capacity audience at its latest Members Meeting, held recently at the Crowne Plaza Solihull.

Providing a global economic report for 2018, Liz Hall from Liz Hall Hotel and Travel Consulting discussed key forecasts for next year. She predicted that the hospitality and events industry will experience modest growth despite challenging macro-economic conditions. The average daily rate (ADR) is expected to increase in 2019, with London experiencing an 0.8 per cent rise, resulting an extra £150 of spending, while the provinces will see an increase of over 1.2 per cent, representing an £70 in additional spend.

Former HBAA Chair and Director of Proposition-Accommodation and Meetings at Capita Travel and Events, Leigh Cowlishaw unveiled Capita’s #THISISME campaign, which aims to call attention to and tackling the growing problem of mental health in the workplace. Alison Jenkins from Meetings Club unveiled her venue location platform, which focusses on sharing feedback and reviews.

Tony Morris from the Sales Doctors provided an engaging session on what the top one per cent of all sales professionals do differently. Key habits include ‘becoming the CEO of the first impression’, ‘helping to buy’ instead of selling, developing visual triggers of desired goals, matching your customer’s body language, asking relevant questions, stressing success over experience and continuously asking for referrals.


David Wood from Conferma explored consumer innovations driving change in corporate expenses payments. Explaining how one in three industry professionals experience cash flow issues and 38 per cent experience stress while waiting for business expenses to be reimbursed, David argued that virtual cards and digital payments not only eliminate these problems, but they provide full visibility and transparency for employers on staff travel purchases.

HBAA Tech & Innovation Chair, Caleb Parker, Founder and CEO of Bold, provided an update on the future of Wi-Fi at venues. The results from a recent survey suggested that more than 80 per cent of hospitality and events professionals want a transparent industry standard that is clear on service levels for Wi-Fi. Nearly 90 per cent believe that the industry would benefit from standardised pricing for Wi-Fi that offers a fair market.

Delegates were then split into groups and asked for their thoughts on response time to client enquiries and how the process could be improved. After a brief brainstorm, audience responses included the need to streamline small meetings bookings, reducing the amount of unnecessary options, creating more honesty between agent, client and venue, and ensuring there is greater transparency in budgets. The outputs from this session will be used to inform best practice for enquiry handling, as part of next year’s full review of the HBAA Code of Practice.

Louise Goalen, HBAA Chair says, “Our theme for the year has been Building on Success and the last meeting of 2018, attended by so many members, and delivering valuable, inspirational, and insightful presentations, was the perfect way to round off the year.”

Adam is the co-founder and editor of Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.