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 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.