Katrina Craig attended the International Investment Forum in Berlin 5-7 March 2018.
Over 2,300 delegates from over 80 countries gathered at the InterContinental Hotel in Berlin, making this the largest delegation in the event’s 21-year history. Feedback from delegates as they left was that this was the best and most productive IHIF to date.
Over 200 speakers shared their expertise at IHIF, including 36 hospitality CEOs. The programme content gave insights on all aspects of hospitality investment and management, with 3 general sessions, a pre-conference workshop, 23 breakout sessions, 6 in-the-round sessions, and a brand new programme of discussions, masterclasses and demos in the Hotel Tech Hub.
The theme for this year’s forum, Reaching New Heights, was present throughout the conference programme and the exhibition space, including the new Tech Hub. The Tech Hub was created to reflect the consistently changing nature of the industry and provided an innovative space for the hospitality industry’s leading minds to discover the latest in technology and data solutions to progress their business.
Widely recognised as the leading meeting place for the hotel industry, IHIF is known throughout the hotel investment world as the place where deals are done. The globally acclaimed conference is also the forum where companies choose to break their latest news.
Breaking news from IHIF 2018 includes:
- Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group announces its rebranding to Radisson Hotel Group
- Deutsche Hospitality presents a new hotel Brand
- IHG joins forces with Conran and Partners to create bold new designs for Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts
Katrina noted that the overall sentiment at IHIF was one of optimism, certainly from a trading perspective. Robin Rossman, Managing Director at STR presented the Global Investment Outlook 2018 and noted that occupancies now are almost 10% higher than they were in the previous peak during 2008 and that “during 2018 we expect to see another year of 5%+ RevPAR growth across Europe.”
For all the positive current and forecast statistics, there was a note of caution throughout the discussions and presentations. Coley Brenan, Partner, Head of Europe, KSL Capital Partners, said “there are clouds on the horizon, a lot of industries will be impacted, ours included, but I remain positive” and this note of careful optimism was also noted by Megan Greene, Managing Director and Chief Economist at Manulife Asset Management who provided the economic outlook and noted that the combination of dangerous high debt levels, low productivity and low inflation mean that “secular stagnation is here to stay”.
The ever-popular global CEO panel drew a crowded room to hear Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO, AccorHotels admit that he was wrong when “four years ago when I was here I thought that brands could matter less, but I was wrong. Brands are like a group of friends, for every occasion you can count on them for a different purpose and that’s what clients want. They provide a short cut in a very crowded world and have enormous value”.
Katrina noted that the industry had adapted well to the threat of the OTAs (online travel agencies) of a few years ago – hotels had improved their ability to drive customers directly to their own websites with the introduction of loyalty schemes, mobile and device apps and dirctly upselling.
Technology was now at the forefront of the changing landscape moving forward, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) being the innovative technologies now challenging the industry.