IHIF EMEA: Global rise of the middle class, the future of brands and more


Germany: The International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF) EMEA, organised by Questex, welcomed more than 2,500 delegates at the InterContinental and Pullman hotels in Berlin.

Across three days, several presentations, panel discussions and one-to-one Q&As were hosted with hospitality brands, operators and investors.

James Pomeroy, global economist at HSBC, highlighted the opportunities presented by the growing middle class, especially in India. “International travel in particular will see Indian consumer demand grow 12 per cent per year, every year, for the next 20 years. This economy will completely transform the way we think about global growth,” he said.

An exclusive interview with Sir Rocco Forte revealed plans to expand the Rocco Forte hotel brand to more countries following the investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

“40 per cent of our business comes out of the United States, it makes sense for us to use that customer base,” Forte told Andreas Ewald, managing partner at Engel & Völkers Hotel Consulting. Target destinations include New York, Los Angeles, Beverley Hills, and Miami, with the group having already signed a property in Dubai. 

Hilton intends to establish “many more partnerships” with independent travel and hospitality businesses, said the company’s president and CEO Chris Nassetta. “You will see many more partnerships on the experiential side. Why? Because our Hilton Honors members, particularly, want more experiences, and the more we can offer them those adjacencies, the more we think they will remain loyal and we’ll get an incremental share of wallet,” he said to Nick van Marken of van Marken Consulting.

“The future of brands will be decided by consumers,” said Dimitris Manikis, president EMEA, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts on a separate panel. “We have 25 brands, 20 of which we acquired. But consumers will decide which brands make sense.” He referenced how fashion, retail and car brands are moving into the hospitality sector. “Where do you stop? Consumers will dictate that,” Manikis said.

Marriott also announced plans to add nearly 100 properties and over 12,000 rooms to its European portfolio through hotel conversions and adaptive reuse projects by the end of 2026.

The winner of this year’s HAMA Europe Asset Management Achievement Award was given to Iconic Luxury Hotels for its Mayfair Townhouse project. The group acquired and rebranded the Hilton Green Park as The Mayfair Townhouse in 2020 due to underperformance. Three years later, the hotel’s revenue nearly doubled and profitability significantly increased.

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