LONDON, May 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Industry-leading event The International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF), produced by Questex, returned to Berlin on 3-5 May, bringing together 2,400 forward-thinking investors, owners and developers and 267 speakers for unmissable opportunities.
The conference’s core focus of people, planet and profit was covered in a raft of dynamic sessions, delivering 50 hours of exclusive content. Here are some of the key takeaways from the event.
1) ESG is at the heart of every decision
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) priorities are leading the way in every decision being made across the industry, including investment.
In the panel discussion Hospitality Investment with Purpose, Miguel Casas of Stoneweg Hospitality and Adrian Flueck of Invesco Real Estate said ESG was already integrated into their companies’ investment strategies while Gilles Clavié, CEO of AccorInvest, described ESG as the hotel owner and operator’s ‘growth engine’.
Ufi Ibrahim, CEO at the Energy & Environment Alliance, told those attending session Sustainable Operations: How to Operate Sustainably and Profitably, she had engaged investors in her sustainable mission before anyone else ‘to create a pyramid effect’ and urged the industry to take meaningful on sustainability action now.
“The industry has been damaged by greenwashing so don’t promote something unless it is genuinely making a difference,” she said.
2) Guests want sustainable travel options
Along with the return in travel demand is a rising interest in sustainable travel, according to Finnbar Cornwall of Google.
Cornwall revealed that there had been a 4,500% increase in the number of searches asking ‘what can I do about climate change? ’ in the last year, with a 2,500% rise in the number of searches looking for businesses running more sustainably.
Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin said ESG ‘won’ over brand standards when questioned which factor was more important in live interview The Big Conversation – Experience, Innovation, Profit.
The hotel leader, responsible for 54 global hotel brands, said: “What people want to know is what are you doing for children and the planet? Go for planet-friendly decisions.”
3) Flexibility is essential
The industry must be flexible in many areas to operate successfully in a post-Covid world. That was one of the key messages coming through in discussions covering a host of topics, from people to profitability.
Sharan Pasricha of Ennismore, speaking in The Future Focus Panel: Hybrid Concepts and Hospitality Innovation, said the events of the last two years had led them to reassess how they operated and what guests were offered.
“We became more flexible because that’s what customers wanted. You can now check into the Hoxton at midnight and check out at 11:59pm the next day.”
The conference concluded with a keynote from Nick Jones, CEO and Founder, Soho House Group. In his humble opening Jones likened his brand to a warm bread roll: “Not too cold, not too hot, but we make people feel good but the most important thing is that we are relevant.”
Inflexibility was identified as a barrier to retention and recruitment in The People Issue: Addressing the Talent Shortage. Panellists echoed the thoughts expressed in sessions throughout the conference – the way the industry approaches recruitment needs to be braver and not rely on prescriptive job descriptions, but instead tailor the role to the person.
4) Innovate, innovate, innovate
Moving on from flexibility was innovation, a key theme running throughout the day’s discussions. At Adjacent Spaces, the think-tank for hospitality’s innovators and game-changers held alongside IHIF, Stephen McCall, CEO Edyn said the pandemic had given operators the impetus to be more disruptive.
“We don’t have data from the last two years but intuitively we do things that feel right. Sometimes you have to take a punt and model a future you want.”
This was mirrored by Natalia Kolotneva from La Salle Investment Management in the Adjacent Spaces session Investing in Hybrid Hospitality, as she urged operators to be innovative: “Be proud of the products you are developing and develop products people want to use. Be more nimble, more creative, more forward looking.”
In his concluding keynote Nick Jones, CEO and Founder, Soho House Group added: “People want flexibility and a hybrid version of the life they had before the pandemic. We have to offer that. There is no cookie cutter, every time we open a house we start again with a blank sheet of paper, we look at how we can make things better for the customer. It’s the most important thing to get right! This is why hospitality has to innovate, to continue to improve and grow.”
5) Technology can aid efficiency
Hospitality should embrace technology to streamline operations and allow staff to focus on guests was a point made across the two days.
In tech-focused session How Can the Hospitality Industry Drive Innovation? Rami Zeidan of Lifehouse revealed how he’d used technology to improve recruitment and training to help mitigate high staff turnover levels and reduce costs.
In Aligning with Profitability, Neil Kirk of L&R Hotels told delegates how his business had focused on IT solutions and digitalisation to improve profitability with online-check-ins and improvements to back office inventory aiding this move.
6) Prices WILL rise (but as a last resort)
Hoteliers were given tips to improve profitability in a number of sessions, but streamlining operations and restructuring internally are not considered enough with food and energy prices on the rise.
In its session Optimizing F&B Revenue CGA said its survey of hospitality operators had found 83% of venues are concerned about food and beverage costs and are looking to raise menu prices by 8% on average.
Panellists, including Rob Hornman of Flemings Hotels Group and Niels Schroeder of Fairmas, in Getting Back to Profitability, outlined the challenges associated with these rising costs, especially as ‘customers are not willing to pay more.’
They concluded that prices would need to shift – ADR rates are going up for the first time - and customers would need to be educated of the necessity while also making cost-savings elsewhere.
ADR rates were discussed in Aligning for Profitability Neil Kirk of L+R Hotels suggested drilling down to the big KPIs to examine what is driving them, such as true net ADR, as well as focusing more on distribution.
“The true net ADR is something we all need to work harder on,” he said. “Net ADR is the one we all have to get better at.”
7) Deals are being done
Activity continues in hotel investment and IHIF saw a number of partnerships being signed and deals being done throughout the two days.
Among those completing deals were Cheval Collection and 141WRS, announcing a management agreement for Cheval Collection to operate their 70-unit property in Glasgow under the Cheval Maison Brand while Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group), the executive arm of the Sultanate for tourism development, announced its partnership with the international beach club, hotel and resort operator, Nikki Beach at IHIF.
Room distribution, revenue and yield management provider HotelPartner Yield Management also announced its partnership with the febc group - one of the largest procurement and turnkey supply companies in the hospitality sector, to offer investors and owners alike, an alternative ‘independent’ operating model.
8) There’s no such thing as an original idea
Inspiration can be found everywhere and panellists in a number of sessions revealed where they sought it to improve their businesses. Adaptation was the name of the game.
In the Future Focus Panel: Hybrid Concepts and Hospitality Innovation Michael Widmann of PKF hospitality group, encouraged hoteliers to ‘steal ideas and adapt them’.
“We need to go through the world and pick up the best ideas. Stealing and adapting them to your needs is not a crime.”
About Questex Hospitality Group
Questex Hospitality Group, a division of Questex LLC, represents a senior audience of $650 billion in hotel assets, reaching one in two hotel owners and operators across the globe. With a portfolio of both media and live events, including Hospitality Insights, The Annual Hotel Conference (AHC), The International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF), and The Resort & Residential Hospitality Forum (R&R), Questex Hospitality Group brings together leaders in hospitality investment, development and operations to make the deals that shape recovery and growth in the sector.
Advisory Board members are consulted regularly to shape the content and direction of IHIF to keep it being the most productive and engaging event for hospitality investment. The IHIF 2022 Advisory Board features senior leaders from global hotel brands including Accor, IHG, Marriott, Radisson and Melia, alongside representatives from hospitality real estate and investment such as PPHE Hotel Group, Deutsche Hospitality, Invesco, Bain Capital Credit and BNP Paribas Real Estate.
To find out more about the IHIF 2022 Advisory Board, visit https://www.ihif.com/ihifcom/advisory-board
Questex helps people live better and longer. Questex brings people together in the markets that help people live better: travel, hospitality and wellness; the industries that help people live longer: life science and healthcare; and the technologies that enable and fuel these new experiences. We live in the experience economy – connecting our ecosystem through live events, surrounded by data insights and digital communities. We deliver experience and real results. It happens here.
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