by Julie White, chief operating officer, Hospitality New Zealand

Expanding Horizons is the theme of the 2019 Hospitality New Zealand conference, which will take place this year in Hawke’s Bay from October 15-17. Under the theme of Expanding Horizons, Hospitality New Zealand aims to provide members that join us for the three-day event with an opportunity to learn, and to learn how to grow and develop their staff and business.

Alongside this opportunity to learn, Hospitality New Zealand will be focussing on the concerns currently facing the accommodation industry in New Zealand. At this year’s event, we aim to put these challenges under the spotlight, with a conference programme full of expert insights from key industry speakers, discussing how to mitigate and/or offset some of those pressures.

At this year’s conference, Hospitality New Zealand is pleased to welcome a key representative from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to speak to our members: Rebecca Heerdegen, Principle Policy Advisor for Tourism at MBIE. During Rebecca Heerdegen’s address, our members will be given a unique opportunity to hear insights from MBIE on the International Visitor Levy (IVL), which was introduced earlier this year on 1 July. Heerdegen will also be speaking to our members about the proposed QLDC accommodation levy and the process that is now underway between QLDC, MBIE and central government.

As the market share of our Millennial and Gen Z guests grows, and our baby boomer guests become more and more switched on to the joys of smartphones and streaming, there has never been a better time to think about incorporating technology into your guest experience. To help our members to prepare for the future, and ultimately “future-proof” their businesses, we will be profiling several leaders in technology at this year’s conference.

During the event, new Hospitality New Zealand affiliates Aider will share with our members their expert insights on using new technology options such as AI Digital Assistants. We are also looking forward to sharing insights with you from Guest Traction, who run On Duty, an online accommodation industry resource, which is a great means of helping our members to share benefits with each other, as well as guests. Guest Traction will be shedding some light on a rising global trend for innovative check-in experiences, such as self-check-in kiosks. This trend can streamline the guest experience, and makes 24-hour check-in a relatively simple and affordable option, without having to have a human staff member available 24/7.

Beyond technology, Tourism Talent will be helping us look at future-proofing the very important human side of our industry. Tourism Talent was developed to help the New Zealand tourism industry with its current and future skills shortage, launched by Jason Hill (formerly of ATEED and Tourism NZ), Dylan Rushbrook, (formerly of SKYCITY and Heritage & CityLife Hotels) and Nuwanthie Samarakone (CEO of ICE talent development agency).

During our Future Leaders Day, held as part of the 2019 Conference to provide great learning opportunities to the industry’s next generation of leaders, Tourism Talent will be helping us to look in-depth at how employers in our industry can help to offset the current pressures of the rising minimum wage, coupled with skilled staff shortages. In particular, Tourism Talent will be sharing their expert advice on how employers can reset their current recruitment practices, to ensure that they are maximising their chances of finding and selecting the right person for the role.

In a climate where our members are struggling to find and afford the “right” talent for the role, we will also be discussing the pressure staff shortages can have on the workload and morale of the employers and managers. During the conference, we will be welcoming Samantha Hannah from the Samantha Hannah Wellness Academy, who will share some methods to promote a culture of wellbeing in your business. Hannah will discuss in detail with our members how managers can enhance the wellbeing of employees to create productive and high performing workplaces, including a focus on the wellbeing of the leaders in your business.

As we work on creating a sustainable future for the accommodation sector through technology trends, human resources and staff well-being, we will also be working towards preserving our planet, and the natural beauty that sustains New Zealand’s tourism reputation around the world. During the conference, we will be highlighting the importance of sustainability in a panel discussion which will feature insights from James Robson from Australia’s first carbon-neutral winery Ross Hill as well as Hospitality New Zealand affiliates Healthpak, who have recently launched a revolutionary solution to biodegradable packaging for hotel amenities.

Whatever focus you aim to take to sustain and future-proof your business, we look forward to welcoming you to our annual conference in Hawke’s Bay, and hope that we can help you to expand your horizons this year.