The only conference on hotel operations in Europe, HOW Festival, is held in Porec on the island of Sv. Nikola at the Valamar Collection Isabella Island Resort.The conference brought together more than 450 participants, mostly hotel directors, heads of operations and hotel departments, and eminent domestic and foreign panelists. The focus of the second edition of this festival, which has turned Poreč into the center of the European hotel industry, is to present the latest global trends and raise the quality of hotel operations.The first presentation on “Talking about the experience – do you know what kind of experience modern tourists are looking for” was given by Andrew Aley, Regional Director for EMEA from TripAdvisor Experiences. He spoke about guest reviews and ratings, noting that the hospitality industry is an industry of experiences, and how their platform can help hoteliers attract more guests and their travelers feel more secure. “We all want the same thing, and that is for guests to experience the best experience. Our platform is large and very influential, as most when planning a trip look at the reviews and ratings of the hotels, restaurants and attractions they want to visit. It is not true that a guest gives reviews only when he is angry or dissatisfied, but he wants to share his positive experiences with others“, Said Aley and added that they offer new tools useful to hoteliers who are trying to get more reviews. He then mentioned that research has shown that when guests are offered various new experiences, then guest satisfaction increases, and that online booking should be simplified as much as possible, because currently only 20 percent of total customers book services outside the hotel online.The panel discussion “Global Trends in Hotel Operations” was moderated by the Director of HOW Festival and HESA Group Marina Franolić, and was attended by Sabina Bartyzel, Director of AccorHotels for Hungary and Srđan Mileković, Senior Vice President for Hotel Operations for EAME region at Hyatt International. They agreed that the main drivers of business in the hotel industry are experiences and experiences. “Our business is subject to the greatest changes due to the expectations and needs of new generations. We have to adapt to them, and first of all introduce digitalization. We strive to make our guests feel welcome and our employees appreciatedSaid Bartyzel. Mileković pointed out that over the years they had to reduce the standards of their brands in order to speed up the processes, and at the same time all other experiences remained in line with the brand.They talked about the need to reduce or increase the interaction of employees with customers, or to educate staff to recognize what the guest wants at a given time. Therefore, some processes have been accelerated by the introduction of new technologies, such as shortening check-in time options for customers to choose whether to check in with hotel staff or automatically. Namely, the younger generations who are more technologically aware expect online check-in and check-out, mobile keys and direct entry into the room. They also talked about the hotels of the future where guests will be served by robots, but the general conclusion of the panel is that technology can change some operations, but it can hardly replace the warmth and smile of staff. Srđan also pointed out a number of examples from the industry, ie how it has changed in recent years.”What kind of leaders will the hospitality industry of the future need?” Was the topic of Susan Farnie, talent development director for the EMEA region at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “The advent of millennials is changing the hotel industry globally, and in addition, the situation in the world is unstable, and technology is constantly changing. Leaders in this industry must therefore be able to function in such an unstable environment and have the ability to learn constantly, because what they are doing now in five years will be completely different. It is known that 60 percent of children who now start school will do jobs that do not exist today”, Explained Farnie. The skills that the industry should look for in its leaders in its opinion are the ability to manage change, creativity, credibility, agility in learning, cultural intelligence and critical thinking.Gregor Jamnik, director of Slovenia’s Best Western Premier Hotel Slon, spoke with Gustaf Pilebje, food and beverage director for Europe at Marriot International. At the opening of the hotel and / or restaurant, the behavior of the guests, culinary trends, changes in eating habits, and the fact that restaurants are becoming places to eat, socialize and meet. Also important is the design of the space. “There may not be a reception or help desk in the future, but the restaurant will always remain a place where guests will sit and where staff will have the greatest interaction with them,” Pilebjer said, stressing the importance of everyone being attentive to guests. The global problem of labor shortage in the F&B sector was also mentioned, to which Pilebjer said that they solve it through internal marketing. Employees have skills and in his company they want them to be proud of what they do.John Bartlett, head of results reporting at InterContinental Hotels Group, spoke on how to use the data to better know guests. There is a lot of data, they come from various sources, so they need to be well analyzed and processed in order to make the right decisions, in order for a hotel to improve its services and make a higher profit. He showed an example of how the hotel in the United Kingdom was one of the worst in terms of results and guests’ opinions, and internal data and development brought the hotel to an almost leading position. Just because they used the data to find out what guests expect from the hotel and make changes accordingly.Mirjana Matešić, head coach of the CSR of the UNICEF Academy in Croatia and director of HP PSOR, spoke about children’s rights and tourism. She stated that business responsibility for the protection of children’s rights is a topic that is insufficiently talked about in our country. Children are a vulnerable group. They must be taken into account by the business sector, whether they are the children of employees and suppliers, children who are guests or workers. It often happens that students who come to practice are exploited. Therefore, codes of conduct are important in companies, as well as educating employees to know how to treat children who are guests. UNICEF has developed ten principles on children’s rights and business.Luka Berger, founder and CEO of Flexkeeping, moderated the panel discussion “Technology for Communication Within a Hotel: Which Management is Right? Higher ROI or better quality of service? What technology is applicable? Should we invest or not? ” Speakers were Alfred Eeltink, Director of Sales and Marketing at Hotel Facility Concepts, Peter Lösch, Director of the Luxury Segment of Rovinj’s Maistra and Liutauras Vaitkevicius, Director of the Good Hotel in London. They pointed out that technology is changing rapidly, as well as that hotels are lagging behind in the introduction of new technologies, and it is not known whether there will always be a refund. Tools that speed up processes, such as shortening check-in and check-out times, are mostly used.As one of the reasons for the slow application of new technologies, they stated that hoteliers are educated in the traditional way. Everyone today has smartphones and tablets, and hotels primarily offer accommodation. The innovations will be introduced in the future, usually in the next two to three years, like voice tools in rooms, but it will depend on whether the technology is one hundred percent good and applicable, because there are currently shortcomings, the panel concluded.Dalibor Šumiga, director of Promosapeins, a behavioral marketing agency, presented how research is conducted in order to get the correct answers to the questions asked by the guests. Namely, through classic surveys it has been shown that guests / customers lie because they do not know the answer and do not want to look stupid, or they hesitate between several answers, ie they want to give a socially acceptable answer. His research company uses priming, an alternative persuasion tactic. Such research is conducted in order to find out the right opinion of the guests and to know which elements of the service / experience should be influenced in order to change the opinion, if necessary.