Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Darling

Stephen Darling

Principal, Stephen Darling Hospitality Consultancy Inc.

After 40 consecutive years in hospitality industry in three countries, most recently as Regional Vice President for Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts in North America, responsible for identifying and securing management contracts on six projects in North America. Stephen now leads his own hospitality consulting practice as well as serving as a director on two boards. Darling readily admits that he entered the hospitality industry by default following two summers spent working as a bellman in one of Quebec City's established hotels. Following this, he obtained a Hospitality Management Diploma at Concordia University, and subsequently did a BSc at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration. In addition to his many professional duties, Darling is known for sharing his years of hospitality experience and knowledge with industry colleagues and candidates. He sat on Vancouver Community College's Hospitality Management Program Advisory Committee; was named Canada's 2001 Hotelier of the Year by Hotelier Magazine; was Chair of Tourism Vancouver's Board for 2002/03. He is a Past Chair of Vancouver Hotel Association and was a director of the Pacific Rim Institute of Tourism. Stephen was Co- Chair of the Yes 2010 team, which was instrumental in Vancouver's bid for the 2010 Winter Olympic games. He earned his icd.d designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors of Canada and Rotman School of Management, and currently sits on two boards in addition to his project consulting practice. Darling's hospitality practice currently includes two multi-national hotel management companies -for which he provides strategic development support in North America. Stephen is fluent in French and “manages to get by” in Spanish. Stephen is also a principal of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants. You can reach him via his website at www.stephendarling.com.

Please visit www.stephendarling.com for more information.

Mr. Darling can be contacted at stephen.darling@shaw.ca

Coming up in September 2020...

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

It is a great time for hotel group meetings. It is expected that once again this sector will grow by 5-10% in 2020, partly due to the increasing value of in-person group meetings. Because people now spend so much time in front of their screens, face-to-face interactions have become a more treasured commodity in our modern world. Plus, the use of social media reinforces the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking - all areas where group meetings shine. Despite this rosy outlook, there is a concern that demand for meetings far exceeds the supply of suitable venues and hotels. There are very few "big box" properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built, and this shortage of inventory could pose a serious challenge for meeting planners. In addition to location concerns, the role of the meeting planner has also evolved significantly. Planners are no longer just meeting coordinators - they are de facto travel agents. Cultural interactions, local dining, experiential travel, and team-building activities are all now a part of their meeting mix. Plus, they have to cater to evolving tastes. Millennials are insisting on healthier venues and activities, and to meet their demands, hotels are making yoga breaks, fresh-pressed juices, plant-based diets, state-of-the-art gyms, and locally-sourced menus available. Millennials are also insisting that meeting venues practice Corporate Social Responsibility, which means upholding sustainable and ethical values; investment in the local community; health and well-being of employees; and general business practices that reflect being good citizens of the planet. Finally, there is a growing trend to merge meetings with other local events, such as music festivals, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The December Hotel Business Review will report on issues relevant to group meetings and will document what some hotels are doing to support this part of their operations.