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Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Luxury Hospitality Conference Milan 2023

Last week I had the joy, mixed with bursts of nostalgia, of visiting Milan. It took me back to the cool jazz clubs and scrumptious risottos I experienced at the start of my career when I lived in Varese, halfway between Milan and Lugano.

This time I was at the Luxury Hospitality Conference discovering more about the people who run some of the top hotels in Europe, their successes and challenges.

Exciting numbers and trends

The day provided rich discussions from key players on the Italian and European hospitality scene –stats, trends, and plenty of food for thought.

The opening plenaries inspired optimism, highlighting the endless potential Italy has to offer visitors. I couldn’t agree more!

The mood was bolstered by lots of positive news: expansion of the luxury made-in-Italy industry, growth in hospitality, new trends – quiet luxury, sustainability, hyper-personalisation. An appetite to absorb local culture through hotel associates, experiences, and merchandise. Although there is still a market for the timeless, formal service style, the new trend is leaning toward more personal and informal touches, and direct communication with associates. The average guest in Milan is no longer European or American, but Asian, and much younger at 25.

Trials and tribulations

It wasn’t long before recruitment and retention took centre stage raising the heat of the debate. I admit, this was no surprise. Although a few GM’s proudly announced the loyalty of longstanding members of staff, most were open about their struggles since the pandemic. Filling vacancies and holding onto staff is getting even more challenging as bookings soar. GM’s are taking measures to strengthen staff engagement and wellbeing, but the frustration was palpable. One had to resort to closing down a section of the hotel despite high demand, another mentioned a move to recruiting from abroad, typically Argentina where many people speak Italian.

Refresh and revitalise

Positive interventions are being offered: more comfortable accommodation for seasonal staff, teambuilding and mentoring to increase motivation, belonging and confidence, employee performance rewards, leveraging passion points, and more. But a sense of apprehension and doubt lingered, apparent in various versions of the phrase “easier said than done” or, to be more precise, “a parole è facile!”.

Perhaps something is missing, or more work is needed. Perhaps a more systemic and long-term approach? One GM stood out for me for his will to go one bold step further and put employee welfare at the heart of his strategy.

What’s my role?

I’m proud to say that I’m enjoying partnering with similar forward-thinking hotel managers in Italy, coaching them and their teams.

My programmes are continually evolving as new research and training informs my practice and personalisation is a priority. I coach senior managers who choose to take a top-down approach to change, and middle managers/key talent who pass on the learning from the middle out.

I work on three levels to develop performance, wellness, teamwork and/or leadership.

1. Emotional intelligence to lay the foundations for growth.

2. Growth mindset to shift from survival to flourishing and sustain development.

3. Communication to build relationships, fulfilment and wellness.

Optimistic about the future

It’s been wonderful to witness individuals make personal breakthroughs, communication and cooperation improve across the whole hotel, stress levels reduce, wellness, positivity and energy levels rise. I am seeing hotels refresh their culture and start to bring it in line with the expectations of today's workforce.

What I learned at the conference confirmed that the work I'm doing with my clients is part of a bigger and much needed transformation and that together, step by step, we are renewing the status of hospitality as a great career choice to aspire to.

Contact me to see if my coaching is right for you!

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