Hospitality’s investment community united in Berlin for two days of dynamic talks

Invest, involve and inspire was the mantra for this year’s International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF), which saw over 2,500 delegates including 550 investors representing $74.9bn hospitality assets under management (AUM).

Delegates from around the globe 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.

Day one’s opening keynote from Professor Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development, Oxford University set the tone for the conference stating that “Investors need to realise that this is the time to get in. Hospitality is a good investment”, but encouraged attendees to really focus on experiential and dynamic places. The 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.

Barr, who will leave his role next month, gave a positive outlook for hospitality. “People aren’t buying TVs, cars and goods, they are buying experiences, airline tickets, booking restaurants and hotels and that’s a great sign,” he said.

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, several high-profile hospitality partners announced key developments including:

  • Saudi Tourism Development Fund announced future partnership with MINOR Hotels to develop multiple hospitality projects across KSA.
  • 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.
  • TDF announced partnership with Radisson Hotel Group to develop several hotels and resorts across Saudi Arabia.
  • 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.