At the age of 19, Serena inherited the Georgian House, a 2-star B&B with six staff and has been developed over time into a 5-star boutique hotel with 60 rooms. An influential member of the industry, Serena is a Master Innholder, St. Julian Scholar and BHA committee member.
Shona heads Cogent Blue, a hospitality-sector commercial consultancy. With more than 20 year’s industry experience, Shona advises on a wide range of projects from commercial strategy to structure review as well as system optimisation, process improvement and training. She has extensive experience of helping her clients realise their commercial potential and works with diverse businesses, within the sector, including: independent hotels, small groups, hotel management companies, owners, investors and global brands. Together with her growing team of industry experts, Shona delivers consultancy and project management services throughout the UK, Europe and beyond. Prior to founding Cogent Blue, in 2009, Shona held a number of senior roles with IHG, Travelodge, Hilton and QMH.
James Devitt is Managing Director and founder of Herald Hotels. He has worked in the hospitality sector since 1982 with chartered surveyors William Hillary, Humberts Leisure and Druce Hotels, brewers Greene King PLC and accountants PKF Hotels where he was Director of Hotel Property Services. Prior to forming Herald he was Executive Director at CBRE Hotels responsible for all hotel valuation, consultancy and professional services across EMEA.
Steve Cassidy is Senior Vice President & Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Hilton, and is responsible for the company’s multi-brand portfolio across the British Isles. He joined Hilton’s revenue management team in 2009, moving into hotel operations in September 2011. His remit expanded in 2015 to include all Hilton’s owned and managed properties in UK & Ireland.
Steve studied Hospitality and Tourism management at the University of Salford & has gone onto run restaurants, hostels and hotels. Since launching Umi Hotels in 2007, Steve also launched Umi Digital in 2010 & now sits on a number of industry boards in the UK as Chairman of the Hotel Marketing Association & Chairman of the British Educational Travel Association. He loves nothing more than travelling, eating local food and supporting his beloved Liverpool FC. Steve is passionate about the Hospitality industry and in particular independent operators, who he believes, with the right tools and knowledge, can punch above their weight.
Steve is a Chartered Quantity Surveyor with over 35 years’ experience as a cost and project manager in the construction industry. He is a Director and Head of Hospitality for Gleeds, having previously been a Director of Davis Langdon/ AECOM in their London Hotels team.