NZ hotel sector tackling rapid change

by Stephen Hamilton, director, Horwath HTL, and Sally Attfield, hotel sector manager, Tourism Industry Aotearoa.

"The hotel sector is always dynamic, responding to changing customer expectations, competing accommodation options, and internal investment and staffing issues.

It feels like the pace of change is continually speeding up. The sector has responded to recent spectacular tourism growth with strong levels of development and investment.

Yet it appears we are nearing the top of the growth cycle. This summer season has seen generally flat hotel occupancy and revenue levels around the country.

Although the number of international arrivals to New Zealand continues to grow, the speed of growth is plateauing.

This stage in the cycle inevitably brings new challenges and opportunities. We will be exploring what the future has to hold at the 2019 New Zealand Hotel Industry Conference. Registrations are open at and we suggest you register as soon as possible, as the conference has sold out for the last four years.

Now in its 13th year, the conference will extend over two days, 19-20 June, at Cordis, Auckland. As co-hosts of both the Conference and New Zealand Hotel Industry Awards, we look forward to welcoming you to the premier annual event for New Zealand’s hotel sector.

The hot topics our speakers will focus on include dealing with change brought about by disruptors like peer-to-peer accommodation, the cruise sector and pod accommodation.

Staffing is a constant challenge for most hotels. We will be looking at the pros and cons of paying the living wage, and the changing role of GMs.

We are excited to announce former Prime Minister Sir John Key as a keynote speaker. He is sure to offer us fascinating insight in his trademark engaging manner.

Philip Poole, the chief marketing manager for leading New Zealand chocolate maker Whittaker’s, will give delegates ‘behind the scenes’ insight on how the company has become the country’s most loved and trusted brand.

Other confirmed speakers include Hilton Hotels vice president of operations Australasia Heidi Kunkel, Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall and SKYCITY Entertainment Group chief executive Graeme Stephens.

The first day of the conference, on Wednesday 19 June, will focus on operational and investment issues affecting hotels. Dean Humphries, national director of hotels for Colliers International, will discuss hotel supply and investment at the Property Forum.

Horwath HTL director Stephen Hamilton will share his views on the outlook for hotel demand.

For the first time, the Conference Exhibition will take place over both days of the conference, giving delegates plenty of opportunities to interact with more than 30 leading specialist providers of goods and services to hotels.

NZHIC 2019 will culminate in a Gala Dinner and the presentation of the New Zealand Hotel Industry Awards. These awards are unique in recognising and celebrating individuals who are doing an excellent job in key roles in their hotels.

New in 2019 is the Technology Award recognising an employee who has made an exceptional contribution in championing a technology project that has led to increased guest satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Entries for the Awards are open until 29 April at Make sure you check out the video featuring some of last year’s winners describing the benefits that entering the Awards has brought them.

These Awards are a fantastic way to celebrate the achievements of your team members, so do take the time to enter and reward your best staff.

See you there!"

Sally Attfield is the hotel sector manager at Tourism Industry Aotearoa. Stephen Hamilton is director of Horwath HTL.