Northern Ireland’s Largest Tourism and Hospitality Event is Back

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Taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on October 12 and 13, the two-day conference offers a cocktail of analysis, advice and support for the hotel and hospitality industry following possibly the most challenging period in recent history. 

The 2021 event has three central themes: Reflect, Recruit and Restore. The programme will consider the previous success of the sector, the challenges of staffing in a new era and how to restore trading to its £1bn pre-pandemic levels of spend.

Sally Beck, General Manager, Royal Lancaster Hotel, London will look at improving the industry’s image, as well as the Hoteliers Charter launch and objectives and international speaker and business coach, Tim Browne will explore staffing solutions. Also covering the perennial problem of people is Sean Wheeler, Consultant, Chair, People 1st Employer Accreditation Panel. Sean will share his experience in creating a business culture that retains talent and reduces barriers for staffing.

The economic outlook and tourism recovery will be brought to life by EY Chief Economist Neil Gibson. Tourism chiefs, Niall Gibbons and John McGrillen will look at future success alongside Michael Williamson, Director of Consulting Services at ASM Chartered Accountants.

The event will see the launch of a specially commissioned report from the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, as well as an update on trading from international benchmarking company STR’s Sarah Duignan.  Tom Barrett, Head of Hotels and Leisure at Savills Ireland will explain hotel sales, valuations, and the current commercial position.

With people in mind, a special initiative has been created for 2021 recognising industry stars who have contributed to success and indeed survival of the sector over the last eighteen months. The Hotel and Hospitality Heroes Awards will feature at a special awards lunch at Hospitality Exchange ’21. 

Northern Ireland tourism event
Vicky Green, NIHF Board Member and Associate Director at Andras House and Stephen Meldrum, NIHF President and General Manager of Grand Central Hotel.

Stephen Meldrum, President of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, said: “Hospitality Exchange 2021’s line-up is one of our most impressive yet and has been curated to reflect the challenges we are facing collectively. We’ve brought together a team of experts to share their insights and advice contained within a very comprehensive programme.

While discussion, analysis and the future will be the main focal points, time will be devoted to the people of our trade, who, without doubt, are our greatest asset. In many ways, they are the unique selling point for local hotels, helping visitors to discover a collection of new and unique Northern Ireland experiences. The role that employees play is integral to the success of the business and the sector as a whole. The Federation recognises this and that is why staff will be the star of the show as we celebrate those who have been nominated for a Hotel and Hospitality Hero Award”.

“Hospitality Exchange 2021 is very much about looking to the future. Our plan is to acknowledge the challenges and impact of COVID-19, while looking at solutions and learning how businesses are addressing them and moving forward.

“We are delighted that the Economy Minister Gordon Lyons MLA will address this year’s conference and the sector is keen to hear of plans to stimulate growth, the rollout of the Tourism Recovery Action Plan and support to restore the sector.”

The two-day long event will conclude with the President’s Party, when guests can don their glad rags and enjoy a sumptuous five-course meal with entertainment from popular NI comedian Paddy Raff. 

Whether you own, manage or work in a hotel, B&B, pub, restaurant, museum, airline or coffee shop, if you’re interested in developing and want to tap into innovation to drive business, then Hospitality Exchange is where you need to be. For further information, log on to

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