IHIF Day Two: Hoteliers focus on quality, new demand
IHIF Day Two: Hoteliers focus on quality, new demand
08 MARCH 2017 9:59 AM

Editors recap the second day of the International Hotel Investment Forum with takeaways, quotables and more highlights from the event. 

BERLIN—The message from Day Two of the International Hotel Investment Forum was optimism, flexibility plus a renewed focus on what the hotel industry does best is what will propel growth in the global hotel industry. Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO of AccorHotels took the main stage in Berlin to address the impact technology and OTAs are having on the industry, and the morning’s CEO debate also addressed the rapid pace of change.

Despite those and other challenges that contribute to the ever-evolving operating landscape, speakers urged the more than 2,000 attendees to focus on sound fundamentals and the core tenets of hospitality, all while being flexible to meet the changing demands of guests.

Quotes of the day
“The bigger issue as it relates to commissions and the brands is a pricing structure … the franchise pricing structure really hasn’t adjusted to the realities of the new economics of distribution.”
--Dara Khosrowshahi, president and CEO, Expedia

“More risk-averse institutional investors have been willing to invest in more alternative assets as they realize that is necessary in order for them to stay relevant.”
--Cody Bradshaw, SVP and head of European hotels, Starwood Capital Group

Photo of the day

Scandic Hotels’ accessibility director Magnus Berglund brought his service dog Dixi to IHIF, and Dixi proved to be a big hit. Berglund stressed the importance of inclusion at hotels when it comes to guests with disabilities, saying that if a disabled person feels alienated at a hotel, so might their families and friends. (Photo: Terence Baker)

Tweet of the day

Editors’ takeaways

Like many Americans, I look at Europe as the crossroads of the world. That’s certainly the case for the hotel industry at the 20th International Hotel Investment Forum at the InterContinental Berlin, as it seems as if all regions are represented. The good news is, while they recognize storm clouds could emerge at any time, there’s a sense of calmness that only appears when things are good. And, make no mistake about it, things are pretty good for hotels in most areas around the globe.

Audience members were recognized for various reasons at several points during Tuesday’s general session. Melbourne. Tel Aviv. Paris. That’s a partial list of where the delegates called home. Couple that with the diverse speakers’ list and it’s clear IHIF has an international appeal and is a good gauge for global hotel health.

It really hit home during the final panel of the morning general session when five industry leaders with diverse ethnic backgrounds—Puneet Chhatwal of Deutsche Hospitality, David Kong of Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Stefan Leser of Jumeirah Group, Simon Naudi of Corinthia Hotels and Pierre-Frédéric Roulot of Louvre Hotels Group and Jin Jiang Europe—spent an hour talking about the industry’s landscape. They talked about the business in Russia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the United States and, of course, Europe. They addressed differentiation and growth, investments and operations, technology and food-and-beverage—all with a passion that could qualify them as cheerleaders. But that’s OK. Judging from the first two days of this conference, there are many reasons for continued optimism. They each face challenges, and there are more obstacles to come, but given the state of mind of attendees here and the belief that overall industry fundamentals are sound, there’s not much that can’t be overcome.

—Jeff Higley, editorial director

Hoteliers understand the threats from outside. Or is that from inside? There will be both, and those sitting in what they regard as a comfortable cocoon might be in for a surprise. How to move? The way to remain relevant to consumers, conference panelists said, was to focus on quality above all else. Hoteliers must stay focused on providing the services their clients demand and staying several steps ahead of all the noise that claims to be more relevant.

Asian money continues to look at Europe, despite currency controls that panelists at a session on China and Southeast Asia said would likely be relaxed, that is, go back to being normal, by the end of the year.

Bingdong Zhao, managing director, Junson Capital, said capital controls had always been present in regards to Chinese capital, “but real estate is real estate, and in September I think currency controls might be relaxed. We’ll always be able to find money to do deals. Currency control is just a name.”

Remaining relevant for Western hotel concerns will mean both providing quality, being flexible in terms of new opportunities and seizing the demands of the new traveler.
—Terence Baker, senior reporter, Europe

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