On 12th March our Board Director and Head of Planning and Development, Jonathan Manns, joined the Estates Gazette for a livestreamed discussion and podcast around the evolving future of hotels and the city. Jon was joined Tony Mulhall (Head of Policy, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), Richard Blyth (Head of Policy, Royal Town Planning Institute) and James Mitchell (Partner, Axiom Architects) with the conversation chaired by Damian Wild (Editor, Estates Gazette).
The discussion came about at what is widely considered to be an important time for the hospitality industry. Visitor accommodation is changing and demand is increasing. Attitudes to travel are changing and the hotel industry is responding by becoming more outward-facing and answering the needs of the communities in which they’re located. It highlighted the extent to which shifts in guest expectation and behaviour, new technologies and ways of working are resulting in increasing variation in both product and location.
It’s clear from the dialogue that there’s scope for the visitor economy to substantially enhance the vibrancy and sociability of our towns and cities, but also a need to understand the drivers of this change in order that we capture and celebrate the upside whilst mitigating any potential disbenefits. There may be scope for more outward-looking and semi-public spaces, whilst design flexibility can unlock previously discounted sites, bringing activity into neglected parts of our towns and cities. However, new ways of working may also make it harder to plan for, monitor and manage, the accommodation coming forward. This requires consideration and understanding from policy-makers, decision-takers and guests.