Key takeaways from IHIF 2023

Key takeaways IHIF

Keith Barr, IHG (left), Alexi Khajavi, Questex (right)

Germany: International Hospitality Media (IHM), the publisher of Boutique Hotel News and media supporter of Adjacent Spaces at the International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF), provides an overview of the key takeaways from the two day conference. 

IHIF, organised by Questex, is a two-day event held at the InterContinental Berlin in Germany. On day one, Adjacent Spaces runs concurrently to the main agenda over at the Pullman Berlin Schweizerhof.

The opening keynote from Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University, highlighted the resurgence of cities and encouraged attendees to focus on experiential and dynamic places.  “Investors need to realise that this is the time to get in. Hospitality is a good investment,” he said. 

Keith Barr, CEO at IHG and who will be stepping down from the role next month, was also optimistic about the future of travel and hospitality. He said: “People aren’t buying TVs, cars and goods, they are buying experiences, airline tickets, booking restaurants and hotels and that’s a great sign.”

From an investment standpoint, there’s a great deal of capital waiting to be deployed which makes to challenging to source the right deal – especially when investors are chasing the same deal. Kristen Kozlowski, managing director of PineBridge Benson Elliot, noted the potential for office space conversions.

She said: “The big question mark for the entire industry is what are we going to do with all of these buildings that are no longer viable as offices. Part of it is working from home and changing how we work, but the other part is ESG energy regulations. If you look at the UK as an example, by 2027, 50 per cent of existing stock can’t be used as office space. That’s 10 million square feet in London alone of office space.”

So far, as Corinne Bonnejean, managing director for hotels at Christie & Co, pointed out, the large bulk of transactions in Europe have been focussed on single assets. Sourcing finance is incredibly tough, particularly in the debt market, which is tampering the progress of some deals. 

Jan Hein Simons, hotels director at Colliers, said: “Many hotels are refinancing at much higher margins and will have no option but to sell as they breach covenants. A lot of opportunistic capital is waiting for the bid ask spread to finally adjust, cash buyers especially.”

Over at Adjacent Spaces, the extended stay sector is witnessing huge growth potential. Trey Shores, head of development and acquisitions at Ace Hotels, is spearheading a new venture for the group by launching an extended stay brand, Pied-a-Terre.

Similarly, NH Lee, managing director for Europe at The Ascott Limited, is launching Citadines 2.0 in Amsterdam later this year. The aparthotel brand will debut a new design scheme which will see its inventory split into different concepts, such as serviced apartments and hotel rooms.

Concluding the conference, Hannah Fry, professor in the mathematics of cities at the centre for advanced spatial analysis at UCL, challenged hospitality industry leaders to use a data-informed approach rather than a data-led one.

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