Set in the sultry, calm and sophisticated Buckle Street Studios, another fantastic event by The Festival of Hospitality brought together pioneers of the industry to discuss what innovation means for the future of the hotel and retail sector and the challenges the industry faces in the current climate. The Panel consisted of Suzanne Maloney from hotel and resort ecommerce platform LiBi; Oliver Dixon, Co-Founder of Something & Nothing; Jordan Kiziuk, Head of Experience for Edyn; Kelley Ralph, Experience Manager for Edyn; and Yvonne Achato, Art Director for Edyn’s new concept store at Buckle Street Studios, a nod to the fact that innovation can, and should be, accelerated by cross-industry collaboration.

Hotels are often spaces which have been lovingly curated, rather than a mere functional space for the convenience of travel. Suzanne Maloney of LiBi, a brand-new digital shopping platform that gives guests the opportunity to buy the products they see around them, either in their room, while they eat or drink, listen to music or explore the hotel, seeks to redefine this notion of a finite and functional stay. In essence, the platform works with hotels to allow guests to buy the lifestyle they want to have. Not only does this new concept seek to tap into the trend of conscious consumerism by providing a platform for makers of interior objects, it allows guests to bring the “holiday mindset” home with them – extending their vacation indefinitely.

Buckle Street Studios by Locke, another convention-breaking project, is spread over 13 stories and consists of over a hundred studio apartments, a curated concept store, co-working area, shaman coffee shop and dedicated maker space. Art Director Yvonne Achato sought to inspire guests by placing follies and unique objects throughout the communal spaces of the hotel. These objects not only form part of the interior design scheme but are accompanied by a story of the designer and can be bought by guests. The aim: to promote curiosity, showcase local artists, designers and craftspeople and redefine the boundary which currently separates “retail” and “hotel”.

There is no doubt that the hospitality and retail sector must face the challenges created by record high street shop closures, staffing issues, a movement towards conscious purchasing and lack of tried-and-tested technology. However, this event proved that sharing ideas and championing innovation across the retail and hotel sector is essential to the future of experiential hospitality.