‘Hospitality Heroes’ honoured

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Four people working in the hotel and hospitality sector in Ballymena and Antrim have been presented with ‘Hero’ awards at the Hospitality Exchange - a highlight of the tourism and hospitality industry calendar for the last two decades.

The inclusion of the Hotel and Hospitality Hero Awards added to an already exciting programme this year and among the recipients were - Ian Manson from Stephens Catering Equipment, Broughshane; Stella Grant from Dunsilly Hotel; John McCrubb from Dunadry Hotel and Gardens; and, Nicky Blair from Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort.

Taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on October 12 and 13, the two-day conference offered a cocktail of analysis, advice and support for the hotel and hospitality industry following possibly the most challenging period in recent history.

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Organised by the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF), the 2021 event had three central themes: Reflect, Recruit and Restore.

Ian Manson from Stephens Catering EquipmentIan Manson from Stephens Catering Equipment
Ian Manson from Stephens Catering Equipment

The programme considered the previous success of the sector, the challenges of staffing in a new era and how to restore trading to its £1bn pre pandemic levels of spend.

This year’s high-profile and experienced speaker line-up ensured that delegates got practical guidance with insights covering this year’s three themes.

Explaining the importance of recognising industry talent and celebrating Hotel and Hospitality Heroes, Stephen Meldrum, President of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, said: “People are without doubt our greatest asset. In many ways, they are the unique selling point for local hotels, helping visitors to discover a collection of new and unique Northern Ireland experiences.

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“The role that employees play is integral to the success of the business and the sector as a whole. The Federation recognises this and that is why staff were the star of the show at Hospitality Exchange 2021.

Nicky Blair from Galgorm Spa & Golf ResortNicky Blair from Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort
Nicky Blair from Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort

“As part of this year’s event, we asked employers to nominate a person who has made an exceptional contribution to the sector, or gone above and beyond the call of duty, for a Hotel and Hospitality Hero Award.

“Over the last eighteen months, the mettle of staff has really been tested. I am immensely proud of the contribution they have made in helping the sector on its road to recovery.

“Hospitality Exchange 2021 is very much about looking to the future.

“Our plan is to acknowledge the challenges and impact of COVID-19, while looking at solutions and learn how businesses are addressing them and moving forward,” said Stephen.