Eight members of the #HOFFamily attended the ASAP Annual Conference 2023, themed ‘People : Planet : Principles’ in London on 29th November 2023.
The last physical conference was held in 2019 due to the pandemic, making this a milestone return.
The conference did not disappoint, with a large number of attendees, the latest industry data and insights being shared, captivating speakers, panel discussions and industry challenges resolved through the collaboration of think tank sessions.
The theme People, Planet and Principles was particularly apparent from the speaker discussions. The morning session portrayed the inspiring journey of Anthony Bennett (who died 12 times as a teenager) with ‘Bouncing Back’. The positive messages gave the audience plenty to consider and apply in personal and professional life.
Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn told their incredible story of ‘meeting on a bridge’ in 2008, where, as complete strangers, Neil’s act of kindness saved Jonny’s life. Six years later, they were reunited and have since become some of the UK’s most influential mental health campaigners.
Both of these resonated closely to House of Fisher, who take the welfare of our staff both physically and mentally with the most serious consideration. We were an early adopter of mental health awareness and are proud to have had a mental first aider for several years, ready to support members of the team, as well as having a strong leadership team, educated and emotionally intelligent to support them.
Helen Hodgkinson, co-founder of CACTUS (Climate Action for Corporate Travel Urgent Sustainability), discussed the impact of the international travel sector on the planet and our environment and how as individuals and a sector this can be reduced. House of Fisher have been amongst the sector leaders on our green journey, achieving an upgraded Greengage accreditation and taking many steps to improve where we can.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust spoke about the importance of personal safety and having lone working policies. Many will remember the tragic story of the disappearance of 25-year-old Suzy, an estate agent and lone worker who went to meet a client and never returned. The evidence suggests Suzy may have been targeted by a stalker, and the Trust’s National Stalking Helpline has helped over 65,000 victims since its inception in 2010, now working to empower people to avoid, mitigate or manage risks across all aspects of their life. The session highlighted many great ideas and tips which we can all implement in the hospitality industry.
The Ask the Agent session was an insightful panel discussion with experienced agents from the industry, covering topics such as sustainability in corporate travel and in RFPs, commission levels and general trends.
Following a delicious lunch and networking, organised group discussions broke out with four themes: People, Planet, Progress and Partnerships. Attendees had been surveyed prior to the conference on various concerns, challenges and topics relating to the industry currently. Thought provoking discussions related to the challenges followed, as did ideas and solutions. These were shared across the room and live drawn by an illustrator to create a future map for our industry. This is a working map, which will also provide value to attendees, who can apply this to their businesses. It was another excellent example of how ASAP membership helps strengthen and raise the sector as a whole.
The afternoon ended with Baroness Floella Benjamin OM DBE DL, who delivered her keynote presentation with a real ‘happiness’ message of self-belief. At 74, she delivered an inspiring talk (with no notes or slides!) that touched on elements from her incredible journey with the same energy so many of the captivated audience recognised from her time on TV.
The evening ended with further networking and concluding drinks. Thank you to ASAP, as proud, founding members and with our MD Trine Oestergaard Stafford currently on the board, it was a truly inspiring conference, a delight to meet again in person and one where every member of the #HOFfamily left with plenty of positives to apply.