Fortune Favours The Bold at IHIF 2023
Hospitality's investment community united in Berlin for two days of dynamic content
The International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF), which gathers the global hotel community together, took place 15-17 May in Berlin, with more than 2,500 forward-thinking professionals, including investors, owners and developers in attendance, with 30% of those attending for the first time.
IHIF also attracted more than 500 investors representing 20% of the total audience, and $74.9bn of hospitality assets under management (AUM). Active investors acquiring hospitality stock in the first quarter of 2023 were all present, including ADIA, Axa IM, Bain Capital, Extendam, Hines, Pandox and Stoneweg SA, demonstrating that IHIF is the home of the deal-makers and investors were clearly looking to build their deal-pipelines.
Delegates gathered at the InterContinental Berlin to hear over 230 world-class experts from hospitality, real estate, asset management, and academia share insight, advice, and views to help shape the future of the sector.
Despite continuing challenging conditions around the world, the hospitality investment community embraced the conference’s headline theme ‘Fortune Favours the Bold’ attending inspirational talks, making connections, sealing deals and setting out plans to build a stronger framework for hospitality.
The opening keynote from Professor Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development, Oxford University, told delegates hospitality was a ‘good investment’ but noted it had been a neglected sector due to lack of effective lobbying and was continuing to be impacted by high inflation and staffing issues.
Goldin suggested the industry be proactive and ‘ahead of the curve’ to seize opportunities. “The hospitality industry needs to do better, to deliver experiences that people want and that last. People are drawn magnetically to find like-minded people – being in the right place is becoming increasingly important for investors” he said.
Giving people valuable experiences and creating a sense of community was echoed in sessions focusing on diversification and merging hospitality concepts, held at Adjacent Spaces at The Pullman Hotel across the road. “You need to add substance, not just style,” said Shafi Syed from Equinox Hotels. “If you want to extend the brand you need to have credibility and a strong, authentic story – and focus on the specific needs of the customer.”
A session led by Jenny Southan, Globetrender examined travel trends and the continued growth of the rebel spending traveller, while the panel discussion with Robin Rossman of STR, Michael Grove of Hotstats, Carine Bonnejean of Christie & Co and Julien Allen of CBRE Capital Talks, saw them unpick asset values and identify opportunities for investors, reinforcing the message that those stuck in old ways may not survive.
The first day was fuelled by two new focuses on F&B and ESG with multiple breakout rooms and sessions, and the main stage attracted keen investors and brands to hear industry leaders Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of Accor and Keith Barr, the outgoing CEO of IHG.
Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO of Accor took to the stage to share his honest and personal insights, and what being bold means to him.
Bazin spoke about his continuing journey with the brand, managing brand standards and his hate of the term AI within hospitality. He said: “There is nothing artificial about artificial intelligence, it should be called augmented intelligence. You need AI, but remember people want and need to travel to build moments and interactions so that can’t be replaced.“
The final session of the day saw CEO Keith Barr, who has headed up IHG Hotels & Resorts for the last six years, speak of his next move after it was revealed he would be standing down from his position at the end of June.
He said: “I’ll be moving to my wife’s birthplace of Hawaii and taking some time with my family, but after 20 years in the industry, I’m sure I’ll be back sooner rather than later.”
Barr said he believed hospitality had the ability to thrive as post-pandemic consumers were more interested in experiences than material objects. “People aren’t buying TVs, cars and goods, they are buying experiences, airline tickets, booking restaurants and hotels and that’s a great sign.”
Day two’s sessions started with a focus on hotel investment. In Finding Finance: Securing the Best Term Sheet banks and alternative lenders Jens Blomdahl of KSL Capital Partners, Bettina Graef-Parker of Aareal Bank AG and David Gorleku of Blackstone discussed how borrowers can increase the appeal of their project to potential lenders and offset increasing margins.
In the CEO Panel discussion, Dilip Rajakarier of Minor Hotels, Katerina Giannouka of Jumeirah Group, Oliver Bonke of Deutsche Hospitality and Gilda Perez-Alvarado, Global CEO JLL Hotels & Hospitality, explored the value of partnerships for competitiveness. Echoing Barr’s comments on the outlook for the industry, Rajakarier said: “The best is yet to come. Travel from China, India, and South America is coming back and we will embrace it.”
Other activity on day two included the presentation of the 24th Lifetime Achievement Award and the 15th Young Leader Award. Following an interview, the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Stavros Andreadis and Dr. Andreas Andreadis, who have worked tirelessly to expand and develop their Sani & Ikos resorts in Greece and across the Mediterranean.
On receiving the award, Dr. Andreas Andreadis said: “We followed our dream and beliefs. We executed our plans well,” before thanking staff, partners, guests and investors.
The presentation also saw Florian Montag from Apaleo celebrate the honour of being named Young Leader of the year, recognising the excellence of young emerging leaders in the hospitality industry.
Concluding the conference was Professor Hannah Fry, who gave a fascinating keynote on The Joy of Data: The Mathematics of Shaping the Future, in which she challenged hospitality industry leaders to use a data-informed approach rather than a data-led one, and to let it be part of the story, not the driver.
IHIF also provided the perfect platform for exciting announcements including IHIF owner Questex who revealed they will assume management control of NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference following its June 2023 event and thus expanding its global hospitality portfolio.
In addition, there were a number of high-profile hospitality partners announcing key developments including:
- Corinthia signed a hotel management agreement to operate a luxury resort in the Maldives.
- YAYS Group announced plans to expand outside Benelux and France. It will open its first hotel in Spain, in Madrid, at the end of this year and is hoping to open in a major German city in 2024.
- The launch of hospitality management company Kinsfolk & Co. Born in London, but created with an international perspective, the company will be led by Paul Brackley, previously managing director of The Beaumont Hotel, Mayfair.
- The launch of LyvInn, a new European-based hybrid hotel brand founded by Navneet Bali, which opened its first hotel in Frankfurt on 15 May.
- The signing of an exclusivity agreement between Zeal Hotels and IHG Hotels & Resort for their first net zero carbon hotel.
- Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Zeus International Hotels & Resorts have expanded their strategic collaboration with a new non-exclusive agreement to develop multi hospitality asset developments in the next few years under the Trademark Collection by Wyndham and Registry Collection Hotels brands.
- Choice Hotels EMEA and Borealis Hotel Group have signed a strategic partnership agreement to expand their European portfolios. Through this agreement, Borealis will have the ability to franchise upscale and midscale hotels from the Choice Hotels EMEA portfolio of brands, across the territories they currently operate including The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Spain and Denmark and look for new opportunities in other European countries.
- Hilton has signed a franchise agreement with Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative asset manager, and Event Hotels to open DoubleTree by Hilton Berlin Ku’damm. The hotel is set to become the first DoubleTree by Hilton in Berlin, following an extensive multi-million euro remodelling. The hotel company has also signed a franchise agreement with Intersped d.o.o. Sarajevo to open Hotel Neretva Mostar, Tapestry Collection by Hilton and Hampton by Hilton Sarajevo City Centre, its first hotel in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
- Saudi Tourism Development Fund announced a partnership with Minor Hotels to develop multiple hospitality projects across the KSA
- Saudi Tourism Development Fund partners up with Radisson Hotel Group to develop several hotels and resorts across KSA