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The rising stars of hospitality have one month left to apply for Fast Forward 15, the female-focused mentoring scheme designed to nurture and inspire the sector’s most promising talent. 

The deadline for applications has been announced as 27 February 2015.
The scheme is being supported by mentors from Fairmont & Raffles Resorts, Ritz-Carlton, Champagne Lanson and IBTM Events, as well as by in-house events directors at AstraZeneca and law firm, Allen & Overy LLP.

Fast Forward 15 has also been endorsed by the Women’s Business Council and by industry associations MPI and HBAA.
Open to all women in the events, hospitality and related industries, at any stage of their career, Fast Forward 15’s entry categories range from: ‘University final year student’ to ‘20+ years in the industry’ and ‘aspirational board director’.
Global events director at AstraZeneca Joanna Lawlor is one of the programme’s mentors and says: “I look back on my own career in the events sector and the decisions I have made over the years. Along the way I could have used more guidance, such as more encouragement to speak up when I needed to or advice on seizing opportunities when they presented themselves. Fast Forward 15 offers an incredible experience for some of the sector’s most talented; improving confidence, nurturing ambition and emboldening women to aim higher.”
Zibrant MD Fay Sharpe, Fast Forward 15 founder, adds: “This initiative has grown out of my belief that you get the best from people if you give them the tools and encouragement they need to work both effectively and successfully. From a personal perspective, it has enabled Zibrant to keep the best talent on our books. I (and my fellow mentors) see the challenges that Fast Forward 15 seeks to address as ones which not only stretch across hospitality, but also extend across UK business. 

"We want to help inspire women in the workplace to be the best that they can be. The application deadline is only a month away and so, I call out to those looking to reach their highest potential to apply as soon as possible, and not miss out on this opportunity.”

Among those backing the scheme is Juliet Price, consultant executive director, HBAA, who said "a fantastic opportunity that Fay has created here to shine a light on women in the industry". 
She added: "I would really like to be able to share some of my experiences and also to reflect on some of the things that I would have done slightly differently. It is like getting a second chance, because with a mentee I would encourage them to think about it in a different way."
Following the application process and a final interview, 15 candidates will be selected and announced at a special launch lunch at the Savoy Hotel on 20 March 2015. For more information visit

At the HBAA’s last Forum, a concept for a mentoring initiative was instigated and such Forward-Thinking is already being supported by Cavendish Venues.

Prior to the HBAA Annual Dinner and Kick-Off meeting at Chelsea FC, Cavendish Venues teamed up with Jack Ferguson at Arsenal FC’s Care in the Community to welcome a group of youngsters guided by Les Rowe, EET Adviser at Islington Council. They visited The Hallam venue for some hospitality, awareness and discussion of the events industry with Paul Martins, Director of Sales.

Les and Jack recently coached and inspired the young ladies who formed Team England at last summer’s Street Child World Cup 2014 in Rio (whose progress was documented on BBC Three). Also joined by Luke Howard from Arsenal, Les put some constructive proposals and questions forward for consideration by the group.

An interesting point was how an occupation in MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) was not instantly thought of as a natural route for work at varying levels with the opportunity to transfer skills and roles. This suggests the hospitality market-place is still one perhaps lacking a degree of promotion or marketing – an issue raised by new HBAA Chair Jacqui Kavanagh at the recent Generation Surgery arranged by Jackie Broughton at The Barbican.

Paul presented the events industry as a viable and attractive consideration for employment, offering insight from experience into the many variable paths and departments that make up a successful hospitality business. The potential for career opportunities and progression was then talked over along with the attributes thought required and the fresh aspirations representing the next generation.

With the invitation extended to visit more of the Cavendish Venues and for any further information or advice, with the help and guidance of enthused educators such as Les, the Forward-Thinking to stimulating new ideas and talent in 2015 starts here.

Contact: Paul Martins
Cavendish Venues Tel: 020 7706 7700


Strong December results contributed to a great year for the UK hotel industry, according to the latest data from HotStats.

Hoteliers across the UK saw an increase in gross operating profit per available room in 2014, with Leeds recording the biggest increase, up 17% on 2013.

Despite occupancy remaining virtually flat in Edinburgh at 79.3%, hoteliers managed to drive up the revenue per available room by increasing rates for tours/groups (+7.8%) and corporates (+5.8%).

The South West also brought its share to the nation’s success with gross operating profit per available room increasing by 9%.

In Europe, Amsterdam and Brussels were amongst the best performing markets, achieving year-on-year growth in gross operating profit per available room of 38.6% and 34.2% respectively.

December was a challenging month for hotels in Barcelona and Zurich with revenue per available room from meeting room hire down 37.9% in Barcelona compared to 2013. However, both cities overall results for the year were much more positive, with increases in all key performance indicators.

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IHG’s 5th Staybridge Suites in the UK is a 93 suite new build hotel, home-like experience for guests looking for a place for an extended stay on business or leisure.  The hotel is  located with views of iconic landmarks such as the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye with London’s eclectic Southbank just a short stroll away.

Mike Greenup, Vice President Brand Management Staybridge Suites, IHG said “We’re thrilled to be opening Staybridge Suites London Vauxhall, our 5th hotel for the brand in the UK, in one of our key cities. With each suite having its own kitchen and the hotel putting on social gatherings, guests will experience a home away from home.”

Vauxhall London is a hotbed of development activity and as the most central London Staybridge Suites, the hotel is well positioned to capture demand from long stay customers frequenting the capital. The recently opened 132-room Holiday Inn Express® London – Vauxhall Nine Elms hotel is less than a five minute drive away from Staybridge Suites London Vauxhall and further strengthens IHG’s presence in the area.

The spacious studio and one-bedroom suites are well thought out for apartment living.  The suites include fully equipped kitchens, LED TV’s, large work areas, air conditioning and free wireless internet throughout. Guests have use of the fitness room, business centre, laundry room and the brand’s own convenience store, The Pantry, which is open around the clock.

“This is a hotel where you come to live temporarily, rather than simply stay for night or two,” explains John Wagner, Director of Cycas Hospitality, extended stay hotel specialists who also manage Staybridge Suites in London Stratford and Liverpool. “Guests are encouraged to settle in and unwind by the fireplace in the lounge. Meet Waggers, our hotel dog who will greet you after a hard day in the office.  Mingle over complimentary drinks and snacks at The Social held every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Even the complimentary breakfast is a ‘make yourself at home’ experience served daily in The Kitchen.”

Staybridge Suites London Vauxhall operates under a franchise agreement with IHG and is owned by Spring Mews (Hotel) Ltd, a subsidiary of CLS Holdings plc, a property investment company listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange.  CLS has been investing in property in Vauxhall for over 20 years.  Its vision for revitalising Vauxhall includes a striking, mixed use commercial and community hub; bringing much needed leisure and retail facilities to the area.

IHG launched the Staybridge Suites brand in 2005 and was the first global hotel company to launch an extended stay offering in the UK.  There are currently five Staybridge Suites properties in Europe - Liverpool, Newcastle, London Stratford Birmingham and St.Petersburg with a further three in the pipeline*.

The InterContinental Hotels Group has announced plans to open a new-build hotel in Washington D.C. in 2017.

The 278-room hotel will be part of The Wharf waterfront development on the Washington Channel.

It will have 5181sqm of meeting space and conference facilities. It will also feature a signature restaurant, a spa, a rooftop pool and bar and a sky view lounge with views of the city and over the water.

The hotel will cater to business travels 'seeking a luxury guest experience' and its development is intended to continue the brand’s growth in 'high profile' cities.  

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A 103-bedroom mid-market Hampton by Hilton hotel is to be developed at a cost of £7m at Humberside Airport, following the signing of a franchise agreement with regional operator Nightel.

The property, which is being developed in conjunction with North Lincolnshire Council, supported by finance from a regional development fund, is expected to open in mid-2016. Located close to the existing Nightel Humber Hotel, adjacent to the A18, it will have a restaurant, bar and 24-hour fitness centre.

Paul Green, managing director of Nightel, said the hotel would create a quality of accommodation that is scarce in the Humber region.

“Signing the agreement is a real coup for us and speaks volumes about the standard of development we are bringing forward,” he said.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president, development, Europe & Africa, Hilton Worldwide, added: “Humberside Airport is a vibrant passenger and cargo hub, and home to the second largest heliport in the UK. Hampton by Hilton Humberside Airport will appeal to passengers travelling through the airport, and alleviate the growing need for quality, economy hotel accommodation in the wider Humber region.” 

The hotel will join a portfolio of 1,900 Hampton hotels across 16 counties, within Hilton Worldwide.

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Independent serviced apartment agent, SilverDoor, won the award for Best Serviced Apartment Provider at the Business Travel Awards 2015. The award comes after an outstanding year for SilverDoor which saw the company generate record revenue off the back of its ongoing commitment to providing the very best client account management in the serviced apartment sector.

SilverDoor celebrate their 15th birthday this year and Managing Director, Marcus Angell, is proud of the progression the company has made since it was founded in 2000: “In our 15th year, we’re delighted to have been recognised by our industry peers in the Business Travel Awards as the Best Serviced Apartment Provider. “We’ve always strived to ensure that we offer the very best service for our clients; providing the best accommodation in the best locations and at the best rates. To have this acknowledged by the BTA judges shows that our approach to client account management is both successful and valued.

“Last year we grew significantly as a company and we plan to continue in the same manner throughout 2015 and beyond.” The judges of The Business Travel Awards cited SilverDoor’s ‘innovative technology; 98% client retention rate; better than-expected growth and excellent staff development programme’ as the key reasons the company was awarded Best Serviced Apartment Provider.

MyEvent.Vision, an exciting, new nationwide competition aiming to find creative talent within Britain’s event industry, has proved popular with key industry organisations.

The competition is open to anyone with a completely original and dynamic event concept, with the winner receiving either a freelance or full-time job offer as well as a £5,000 cash prize and investment into their vision to create a live event.

As well as attracting headline sponsorship from global event agency, Events International Group (EIG), MyEvent.Vision has attracted the support of leading event industry and business organisations including BVEP, Britain for Events, ISES UK, EMA, The FT, Walt Disney Media+ and Storm Model Management.

The Chairman of MyEvent.Vision’s judging panel, Chad Lion-Cachet, and MD of EIG added ‘The enthusiasm with which the industry has greeted MyEvent.Vision has been impressive. Anyone thinking of entering the competition shouldn’t see this merely as the chance to win a great prize but as their opportunity to shine in front of key figures in their sector. Shortlisted candidates will be spending quality time with the judges and the partners so even if they aren’t the ultimate winner, they will do their professional standing no end of good if they impress us. If you work in events and are serious about your ambition and creativity, you really should be participating in MyEvent.Vision.’

The format of MyEvent.Vision can be better understood as ‘Dragons’ Den meets The Apprentice’. Entry to the competition is completely open; the strongest submissions will be shortlisted with the people behind the ideas being invited to do a live pitch to a judging panel. From this process a winning candidate will be selected. Entries are now open until 6th February 2015 with the shortlisted entries announced on 11th February 2015. The judges’ pitch takes place on 27th February 2015 with the winner announced on 3rd March 2015.

Visit for more information about the competition or contact

SilverDoor’s Business Partnerships Director, Stuart Winstone, has been presented with the prestigious Tim Gasson Award by the HBAA. Stuart collected the award at the HBAA’s Annual Dinner and is the first member of the HBAA’s Serviced Apartment Committee to receive the award.

In his role with the HBAA, Stuart has helped to create a model agency agreement as a best practice framework for serviced apartment operators and agents to use as the basis for their commercial agreements. He’s also been working to ensure that the HBAA engages with other industry associations in order to advance the serviced apartment sector as a whole. This growth sector is an area that more and more HBAA members are beginning to focus on and add as an additional service for their clients. HBAA agent members that have added serviced apartments to their product range have benefited from this additional revenue stream, increased client satisfaction and client loyalty.

Stuart commented: “I’m humbled to receive this prestigious award, particularly as it’s the last time that it’ll be awarded. I’m proud of the support SilverDoor gives the HBAA and I’m grateful for the time they allow me to devote to promoting our part of the business travel sector.

“The HBAA’s serviced apartment committee has been working hard to share our knowledge with our fellow HBAA members and it’s wonderful to see serviced apartments taking up their rightful place alongside hotels and meetings and events as an integral part of the association.”

Stuart was nominated for the award by Liz Devaney, HBAA Serviced Apartment Committee Chair who said: “Stuart has been an integral part of the Serviced Apartment Committee within the HBAA, helping us as an industry to drive forward. “The Tim Gasson award is for those members of the association that have gone the extra mile to support the association’s objectives. During his tenure with the committee, Stuart has gone above and beyond to highlight to the membership, and the wider industry, the importance of recognising serviced apartments and their growth within business travel.”

The Tim Gasson Award is dedicated to the memory of former HBAA Chairman Tim Gasson who tragically died in a motoring accident during his year as Chair. It’s awarded to the HBAA member ‘who has made a particular contribution to the HBAA, and who demonstrates commitment to its ethical principles in their business life, just as Tim always did.’

Marriott International has announced it will stop blocking its guests from using personal wi-fi devices at its hotels.

A statement released on its website this week said: "Marriott International listens to its customers, and we will not block guests from using their personal wi-fi devices at any of our managed hotels. Marriott remains committed to protecting the security of wi-fi access in meeting and conference areas at our hotels. 

"We will continue to look to the FCC to clarify appropriate security measures network operators can take to protect customer data, and will continue to work with the industry and others to find appropriate market solutions that do not involve the blocking of wi-fi devices."

Marriott was fined £373,000 ($600,000) last year after the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Centre in Nashville, Tennessee, blocked conference delegates’ own wi-fi networks and forced them to pay for the hotel’s connection.

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