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By Steven Hesketh

By Steven Hesketh

The Art of Hospitality Roundup

In his latest Blog, Steven reflects on ‘The Art of Hospitality Conference’, where over 100 people gathered, to collectively explore ‘How to Make Hospitality Great Again’, with ‘People, Place Making and Perception’ in mind.

People, Place Making and Industry Perception

I can’t believe it’s been just over a week since ‘The Art of Hospitality Conference’, in Liverpool, where over 100 people gathered for our second event, to collectively explore ‘How to Make Hospitality Great Again’, with ‘People, Place Making and Perception’ in mind.

Before I dive into the key takeaways, I would firstly like to give a big shoutout to our speakers and a say huge thankyou to them, and also to all those who attended – it really was a brilliant day. When asked to describe the event in one word, guests said;

  • Motivating
  • Engaging
  • Eye-opening
  • Amazing
  • Insightful
  • Phenomenal
  • Inspirational
  • Thoughtful
  • A safe space
  • Individual
  • Inviting

And, I honestly couldn’t have asked for any better words. What a success!

Other feedback included:

Gaynor Black, a seasoned hospitality professional with over 30 years of experience, praised the conference for its diverse range of speakers who addressed challenging questions with remarkably positive outcomes.

Frank Mckenna, Chief Executive at Downtown in Business, also shared his enthusiasm, describing the event as “fabulous.”

As always, the event delved deep into the evolving landscape of the hospitality industry, and collectively we discussed what needs to be done to help it not just survive, but thrive. We had ‘raw and real talk’ across panel discussions, audience discussions and presentations.

Tech and Sustainability

We started the day with Peter Schriewersmann, Owner/Operator of Happy Days & Hotel Anfield, hosting a panel talking about tech and sustainability challenges; we heard from Helen Tandy, Director of Eco Communities supporting individuals and businesses in building a more sustainable future, Tech Superstar, Liam Jones from Pilla, who has created a free work management app made for hospitality, and Inge Hunter, Founder of Clue, who discussed the relationship between technology and marketing and how we can apply this to hospitality and overall sustainability goals.

Youth Panel

Our Youth panel, featured; James Ellams – top 4 finalist at the Young Fish Fryer Awards and CHA Rising Star Winner, Scott Hesketh – Student & P/t. Employee at Artezzan, Chester and

Rita Adeyina Obeng who has recently completed University and works P/t at Chester Townhouse Hotel – they focused on challenges around the next generations perceptions on hospitality and careers in hospitality. I can’t stress enough how much the room was buzzing at this point, with many people contributing to the discussion. The youth panel were phenomenal, and a key take away was that many of them went into the sector for short-term and part-time jobs, not realising that there were so many career paths and prospects within the sector. This led us to talk about hospitality education for future generations, the possibilities of hospitality being a key part of a national service programme and asking; could hospitality be the place where many young people start there working life?  

One of the big problems we are facing as a profession is that young people are clearly not attracted to working within hospitality for the long-term – this is madness, as it’s one of the best routes through which you can build a strong career path – but, they have been put off by the outdated image of being overworked and underpaid and scenes of chefs swearing at everyone. This is not what a modern-day hospitality business looks like, and indeed alongside a bigger focus on wellbeing and work life balance the progressive operators are creating opportunities for young people that really suit their skills. For example, at my hotel we no longer have ‘front of house / meet and greet staff’ – we have influencers – people who greet the guests, connect with them to ensure they have the best experience and encourage them to share their experiences with the world during their stay. This is a 21st Century hospitality role and when we speak in this language, we can start to become relevant as a profession to young people looking to build careers they’ll love.

The Power of Personality

Post-lunch we had a real shake up and added personal development into the mix, when the incredible Jojo Smith, Founder of CreativSAS took to the stage – Jojo is a brand ambassador for major brands and entrepreneurs. Jojo absolutely brought the energy and the vibe, with her talk on the power of personality. She shared that; ‘95% think they’re self-aware, but only 15% actually are’ and how self-awareness is so relevant to hospitality. She spoke about how we should take time to look at ourselves through rose-coloured glasses and see the positives and favourite things about ourselves, because when we start to see what we are good at – acknowledging our strengths and USPs – this is when we get confident and stronger and we project our strengths, our personality shines through, our venues get stronger and then it ripples outwardly – our localities and places get stronger… I truly believe that successful leadership starts with self-awareness, and this is something I stress and hone in on as part of the Hospitality Hero masterclass

Female Leadership

We then heard from HR Guru, Victoria Brown and Marketing Expert, Louise Kemp on the Shortage of Females in Hospitality Management, they touched on the underrepresentation of women in management within the hospitality sector, discussing the barriers women face and ways to address these barriers to have more females in leadership roles. This then led to an audience debate around menopause training needs within the sector. There was also a discussion on the confidence and trust women need from their superiors to request specific hours, enabling working mothers to take their children to school. The stereotype that working mums cannot work full-time persists, yet the hospitality industry offers some of the most flexible hours, making it possible for these women to balance both career and family responsibilities.

Powerhouse Cities

Finally, Frank McKenna (CEO of Downtown in Business) hosted an in-conversation style panel focusing on ‘Hospitality Powerhouse Cities’, Frank was joined by Thom Hetherington, Founder of hospitality and culture consultancy, Landing Light and also Joe Bickerton, Wrexham County Borough Council, Destination Manager in the Economic Development Department. Joe is responsible for the delivery of Wrexham County Borough’s Destination Management Plan, working in partnership with Visit Wales (Welsh Government) and the local private sector trade.

This panel was fantastic, and we delved deeper into how Wrexham and Manchester are both cities who are ‘having a moment’. We learnt that place making is key and how this helps towns and cities to grow and thrive.

I truly believe that the visionaries and collaborators are the ones who are going to move hospitality forward. So, for me a key takeaway point was that both Wrexham and Manchester wouldn’t be where they are now without the personalities and visionaries, people have got behind the cities vision, and both these cities are truly leading the way and there is so much that people in hospitality from around the globe can learn from them both.

One huge step Manchester have taken in leading the way, is with the introduction of ABID’s – Since 1 April 2023, a ABID charge has been happening in Manchester and the city has raised more than £2.8m in the first year, I shared more about this in my recent blog – It’s not a TAX, it is ‘A BID’ to Save Hospitality!

Both cities are also finding different, unique and creative ways to keep the cities alive – they are leading the change. This leads me to ask again – What success can you capitalise on in your area? This was something I explored in my recent blog.

The Art of Hospitality Conference – October 2024

To my delight, the event created such a buzz and sense of camaraderie – these events help anyone working in the industry to feel more positive about the future we can create together. This is one of the reasons why I launched ‘The Hospitality Hero’, to host events and communities like this, as I believe in our profession and want many of us to unite, link arms and collectively inspire each other to globally lead with passion, advocate for the industry, push for change, whilst ensuring we are able to lead effectively and continue to rebound strongly to any challenges thrown at us.

This community is for all. It’s about being collaborative. It’s about everybody having a voice. It’s a safe space to share.

We have an incredible line up for our next The Art of Hospitality Conference in October. Please connect with us on socials and join our free Facebook community hub today –, so you are the first to hear about what’s coming…  or to grab a ticket to the next The Art of Hospitality Conference, please visit:

Downtown in Business