Is Middle East Hotel Investment set to reshape the Tourism Industry?

Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) recently took place in Dubai. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to attend this year, but Dan Akhtar has been following events closely online.

The event was a huge success. Attendees and digital participants were encouraged to “Lead the Change” in the hospitality industry, aiming to make it more progressive, sustainable, and lucrative for the upcoming generations.

With industry giants such as Hilton, Accor, Marriott and IHG all announcing plans to significantly expand their portfolios in the Gulf at FHS, we look at what the hotel investment landscape currently looks like in three of the region’s most dynamic markets.

One of the world’s key hospitality players

“The region is going through a fascinating transformation in the hospitality sector, with over 600,000 hotel rooms in the planning and development stage. This quantum of development, which has not been seen before in the Middle East or even globally, is set to change the shape of the region’s tourism industry in the years to come and will help to further raise the region’s profile as a one of the world’s key hospitality players,” said Turab Saleem, Partner & Head of Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure – MENA at Knight Frank.

Dubai
Dubai is enjoying a very strong year both in terms of ADR and occupancy rates. The successful hosting of huge events like EXPO 2020 Dubai, which recorded 24 million attendees during its 6 months of opening, proved that Dubai is a world leader in hosting mega events. Its hospitality industry has enjoyed exponential growth building on this reputation.

With 65,000 hotel rooms under development in Dubai, tourism contribution is set to reach 15% of GDP by 2030, with an international average of 9%.

While UAE failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup being hosted in Qatar, Dubai is set to reap huge benefits, being just a one hour flight from Doha.

Its generous supply of accommodation and a more permissive environment towards clothing and alcohol, availability may mark it out as a preferred option for many football fans over staying in Qatar.

Qatar
Qatar will take centre stage when the FIFA World Cup kicks off in November and this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to highlight its travel and tourism industry. Qatar has been reported to have spent upwards of USD20 Billion on the event, with more than 100 hotels due to open in time for the visitors flocking in.

Already graced with a grand selection of luxury hotels, Doha is set for a bumper few months but attendees do have alternative accommodation options in neighbouring Dubai, if the inflated ADRs of Doha’s hotels prove too much.

As part of the legacy project, Qatar promises to turn football stadia into huge event spaces for concerts and events and has invested heavily in Qatar Airways in recent years. With average rates likely to drop due to oversupply after the World Cup, it may become an attractive alternative to Dubai for tourists.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has one of the most ambitious projects in the region as part of  Vision 2030.

The Kingdom’s plan is to build a more diverse and sustainable economy, while becoming an international economic hub to connect Europe, Africa and Asia .

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Development Fund (TDF) also announced it was setting up a USD400 billion hospitality investment fund. This will be in collaboration with the UK-based global hospitality developer Ennismore and Al Rajhi Capital, a homegrown asset management company. It promises to introduce Ennismore’s brands (which include The Hoxton, Mondrian, TRIBE and Gleneagles) to 12 destinations in the kingdom.

The Future Hospitality Summit also proved to be a very successful week for Marriott, IHG and Accor as they all announced that they are expanding their portfolios in Saudi Arabia. Marriott announced six luxury brands (including St Regis, Edition and Ritz Carlton), two select service branded properties alongside a total of 20 properties in the Gulf region, will open by the end of 2023. IHG announced the management contract signing for Hotel Indigo Jeddah and Accor revealed that they will open a Novotel Living, a serviced apartment development, in 2026.

HPG Advisory Services
We have exceptional industry relationships and proven successes with operators, developers and investors in the hotel, and hospitality sectors across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

Our services include executive search, human capital architecture, talent management consultancy, behavioural profiling and a range of human capital services tailored to meet the specific challenges of each of our clients.

We are proud to have delivered some of the industry’s most talented leaders into key appointments. If you’re looking to build, strengthen or diversify a role, a team or your entire business, please contact us today.

Dan Akhtar, Managing Director of HPG Advisory Services +44 20 8600 1166 / +44 7808 157796 / dan@hpgsearch.com

 

 

 

 

UK Hotel Investment Trends – Summer Update

40% increase on previous year so far, but what trends are emerging? 

Although international travel restrictions have eased, disruptions in travel, as airlines and airports struggle to scale their operations back to pre-pandemic levels, has made many holiday makers reconsider their travel plans this summer. The Great British Staycation trend looks set to continue for another bumper year. This strong domestic performance is driving increased investment in well located, efficiently run hotel business which are often seen as a less volatile option than real-estate, with year round returns on the right properties. 

According to Knight Frank, this increased investment has already seen a 40% increase on 2021 in the first four months of 2022 and with trends continuing to point in the same direction, this is likely to continue. Portfolio transactions have seen the biggest increases in this period with some highlights including the regional sales of The Pig Hotel Group and The Inn Collection.  London has seen a similar level of  the sales in the same period with the purchases of Point A Hotel and the Hilton London Olympia. 

While Investment in regional and London hotels has been relatively evenly distributed in 2022, this has not been the case in recent years. 2021 saw more that 60% of all investment took place in regional parts of the UK with Edinburgh being the highest performing city outside of London. 

Scotland
Last year, Edinburgh took 15% or all regional hotel investment capital excluding London. Three transactions in particular accounted for nearly half of this as Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh, Adagio Aparthotel Edinburgh and Macdonald Holyrood Edinburgh all changed hands. But what effect will the recent announcement from the governing  party in Scotland, the SNP, that they will push to hold a second independence referendum in October 2023?  

In 2014, when polls were warning of a possible Yes vote prior to the first Independence Referendum,  investment in the UK shrank as banks warned of a Sterling collapse. The field of play is certainly very different now with the UK having left Europe, the world recovering after a pandemic and inflation at a 30 year high but we may still be able to learn from these trends. The five years after Indyref1 saw a huge increase in international investment in Scotland as UK investors hesitated to immediately step back into the region.  

Commercial Mindset
The announcement in June that Accor is entering exclusive negotiations to sell 10.8% stake in Ennismore for £159m to a Qatari group proves that innovative, commercially minded lifestyle brands are proving to be very attractive to international investors. The ability for brands to adapt to, and in many ways drive the change in, an ever evolving and competitive market raises the interest of prospective investors. This commercial mindset sees opportunities where others see obstacles and this is always very attractive.  

Serviced Apartments
Another area that has raised the interest of potential investors are Aparthotels and serviced apartments. As mentioned earlier, real estate values can fluctuate wildly in uncertain time. While well run hotels can offer a much more consistent return than real estate, Aparthotels offered much more operational resilience during the pandemic and the and have the ability to switch to mid and long term let more easily. According to Savills, the supply of serviced apartment stock across Europe is set to accelerate, with supply forecast to expand by 21.2% over the next three years. London and Munich are seeing the highest levels of demand, but the regional UK cities Manchester and Belfast are both sitting at number 5 and 10 in Savills’ outlook. In a  market  still dominated by a small number of brands including Staycity and Adagio Apartments there is a huge opportunity for new and existing operators to leverage private equity, expand and grow. 

HPG Advisory Services is proud to have helped place some of the industry’s most innovative and commercially minded executives and operators. If you’re looking to build, strengthen or diversify a role, a team or your entire business, please contact us today.  

Dan Akhtar, Managing Director of HPG Advisory Services +44 20 8600 1166 / +44 7808 157796 / dan@hpgsearch.com 

 

Hospitality Investment Trends

Last year, HPG Advisory Services looked at the Global Hotel Investment Landscape as international travel was beginning to re-emerge after Covid-19. We explored some of the key considerations for investors and owners and looked at which geographic regions and styles of properties were most likely to see an immediate uplift post-pandemic.  

Since then, consumer confidence towards travel has increased, and as restrictions are being lifted in numerous countries, and many hospitality businesses are reporting a promising return to growth.  

Here, we review the emerging trends and what opportunities the hospitality sector presents in the future. Whilst we’ve taken various insights into consideration, we must acknowledge the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine which continues to threaten stability throughout Europe and events there could quickly shift any current trends in unpredictable directions. 

What happened in 2021? 

Firstly, let’s recap on some of the hotel investment highlights from 2021. The Caterer has reported that hotel investment in the UK grew by 84% on 2020 levels and at £4.14 billion, was just shy of the 15-year average. Private equity was particularly interested in regional hotel investment which was particularly buoyant, and it was clear that international investors still see great value in the UK market with investments relatively split between investment from within and from outside the UK. 

The hotel sector has had a resilient year with strong momentum in the final quarter showcasing the appetite for UK hotel assets. While there remains operational challenges in the short-term, investors continue to be positive on the long-term outlook of the sector and we anticipate another strong year in 2022 for the UK hotel investment market.” – Tim Stoyle, Head of UK Hotels at Savills. 

Investor trust also returned to Spain as the €3.19 billion (as noted by Christie & Co.) where investments exceeded pre-pandemic figures. 2020 had seen a strong pull away from urban hotel investment, a trend reinforced by one of HPG’s clients that completed two transactions in the Iberian Peninsula during the pandemic. 

Continuing Trends into 2022 

Recruitment and Retention   

One of the biggest challenges in hospitality, since the start of the pandemic and closure of so many businesses, has been recruiting and retaining employees. Furlough, redundancies and the continuing effects of Brexit forced many front-line employees to either join new industries or return to their home countries, precipitating a perfect storm for the decline in available talent in the hospitality industry.  

As with every challenge, there is an opportunity and any hospitality organisation that can make their business more attractive in what is currently a candidate-driven marketplace will have a huge advantage. Working from home, digital nomads, flexible working and reimagined office space all became the norm during the pandemic. New working trends are condensing the space between business and leisure and the portmanteau Bleisure has re-emerged.  

 Hospitality, especially at the luxury end, has always given employees an insight into a luxury lifestyle and the opportunity to travel or live abroad. Company benefits that replicate this can still be very appealing to potential candidates while also giving them a valuable insight into customer expectations and a road to building empathy and genuine connections with the guests they take care of.  

Hospitality’s Digital Transformation 

Investors will be keeping a keen eye on the increased digital transformation of hospitality service and how they may be able to leverage these digital innovations to drive customer experiences, revenues and return on investment.  

The pandemic was a catalyst for the hospitality industry to accelerate processes for everything from contactless payments to online ordering and mobile hotel check-in. The expectations of digital-savvy customers are very high, but the concept of creating completely new digital experiences to complement the more traditional in-person experiences doesn’t seem quite as far away as it did two years ago. While taking on too much could harm the existing customer experience, successfully integrating innovative, creative and exciting digital experiences could be very tempting to investors, eager to catch the next big wave of this transformation. 

ESG and Property Investment 

We recently explored how the Environmental, Social and Governance strategy of businesses is a key consideration for potential employees when choosing a new organisation to work for. Unsurprisingly, ESG is now playing a large part in how property investors are thinking about their investments. Since property is usually a longer-term investment, ensuring that all new buildings have sustainable credentials and retro-fitting existing buildings with environmentally friendly features will help future-proof their investment. 

ESG Investment Funds are also increasingly popular and have rewarded investors with solid returns over the last few years. Larger Hospitality chains, who form part of these funds are often keen to ensure that the hospitality operations are aligned to the expectations of these funds manager and investors. As a result, the role of Hotel Asset Management has become increasingly popular as owners look to listen to the market in order to protect their assets and drive growth.  

General Investor Trends 

The recent 2022 Knight Frank Wealth Report looked at investment trends for popular luxury items such as art, whisky, classic cars, diamonds, wine and watches. While these investors had different experiences through the pandemic, they all seem to be predicting some sort of future that embraces digital transformations with Cryptocurrency, NFTs and the Metaverse featuring heavily. Many investors appear to be dipping their toes into this area so as to not be left behind, but the majority seem to have little understanding of how this digital future might actually play out. In many ways, the future is unwritten and it will be the innovators that best capture their moment that will ultimately succeed.  

HPG Advisory Services have exceptional industry relationships and proven successes with operators, developers and investors in the hotel, and hospitality sectors across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Our services include executive search, human capital architecture, talent management consultancy, behavioural profiling and a range of human capital services tailored to meet the specific challenges of each of our clients.   

We are proud to have delivered some of the industry’s most talented leaders into key appointments. If you’re looking to build, strengthen or diversify a role, a team or your entire business, please contact us today.  

Dan Akhtar, Managing Director of HPG Advisory Services +44 20 8600 1166 / +44 7808 157796 / dan@hpgsearch.com 

ESG and recruitment – the perfect match?

With COP26 having recently taken place in Glasgow, the topic of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is making its way up the list of priorities of many businesses.

Whilst there is no doubt that everyone has a personal responsibility to mitigate climate change, there is an added responsibility for companies to use their influence and in still a culture in their business to do the right thing. Whilst saving humanity as we know it is already reason enough, what other benefits could a comprehensive ESG strategy bring?

We are not experts in ESG, but we do specialise in people. And people, whether they are candidates or existing employees, recent graduates or experienced professionals, are demanding more transparency and a firm commitment to ESG from the companies that they work for or may choose to work for in the future.

“75% of people say they trust their employers to do what is right— more than government, media, or business. This trust is conditional on making things better, not just making better things.” (2019 Edelman Trust Barometer)

Whilst the world has changed dramatically since 2019, trust and integrity remain pillars of morality, especially in times of crisis. Candidates and employees may say that they trust their employers to do the right thing, but this is not uninformed, blind trust and it’s built up over time.

Millennials and Generation Z’s now make up about half of the global workforce and this is likely to grow to 75% by the end of the decade. These generations are looking to support and work for companies that share their values and inspire trust. These generations have grown up with technology at their fingerprints and will conduct comprehensive research of potential employers, stacking up the sustainability credentials and social values of the company they are interviewing. Yes, don’t forget that interviewees are also the interviewers.

So having a clear carbon reduction plan and clearly demonstrating your values are integral in attracting and retaining talent.

At HPG we work with both employers and the candidates to find perfect matches. We have long lasting relationships with our clients and candidates alike, supporting their recruitment efforts. More frequently, are seeing more and more candidates considering the ESG commitments of a business when considering their employment requirements.  We would encourage all businesses to ensure that their ESG-credentials are communicated, whether this is through social media, company website, job descriptions or all of the above.

If you would like to have a conversation about a people strategy for your business, or are looking to take the next step in your career, please let us know as we would love to have a chat.

Hospitality People Group office +44 20 8600 1166  Email dan@hpgsearch.com

Success Stories – In conversation with David Anderson

David Anderson is an established hospitality leader who has recently been named as Interstate Hotels & Resorts’ new Executive Vice President – International.  

Over the last 25 years, David, who is originally from St Andrews in Scotland, has travelled the world with various leadership positions for hotel groups. David has extensive experience in luxury resorts and midscale hotel portfolios throughout Europe, the UK, and the Indian Ocean. He has operated in both branded and independent properties and has managed companies within multiple structures including owned and operated, hotel management agreements and franchises. 

His role at Interstate Hotels & Resorts follows his three years as CEO of Sun Resorts, where he was responsible for 3,500 employees on the idyllic island of Mauritius. His previous roles also include Managing Director of Dolce Hotels, Regional Vice President for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Vice President for the Louvre Hotel Group in Paris. 

At Hospitality People Group, wehave known David for many years, having helped place him in his roles at both Dolce Hotels and at Interstate Hotels & Resorts. We were delighted that he agreed to sit down with us for a short Q & A to share his thoughts on his experience of the hospitality industry. 

What inspired you to follow a career in hospitality?
There is so much about hospitality that makes it an attractive and rewarding sector. I’ve always been passionate about people and fundamentally that’s what drove me to build my career in this industry. 

As a French/English speaker, hospitality appealed because it offers rich opportunities to travel and I have been so lucky to enjoy many incredible cultural experiences through my work across different hotels globally. Indeed, it’s been a great way for me to see the world and gain extensive experiences from midscale hotel portfolios throughout Europe and the UK, to luxury resorts in the Indian Ocean. 

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting (or considering) their career in the industry?
I would encourage those considering coming into this industry to build their story from day one. Getting best in class experience working with world-class brands and hotels that enjoy an exceptional reputation will make you a very attractive proposition to a future employer. Being able to continually challenge yourself outside of your usual comfort zone is also important, as is having a willingness to move, both in terms of location and departments. Hospitality offers you the ability to develop your career in many areas including Operations, Sales, Finance, HR, IT or even hotel development. 

It’s about building a narrative, getting technically competent and mastering each role you do, and as your career develops, you will develop natural leadership capabilities and you’ll find a wider variety of options opening up to you whether that be as a GM, regional manager, in a corporate function or even as CEO! 

I look back on my history now and am grateful for every part of my career story, every experience has helped me to get where I am today. 

The hospitality industry is on a huge recruitment drive at the moment and retention of employees has been a major challenge. What do you think are the most important things to do when leading and inspiring a team?
It’s true that, for a variety of reasons, recruitment is one of the biggest challenges our industry faces, that’s why I believe in the value of developing strong relationships with recruitment firms and head hunters. But I always go back to what inspired me to get into hospitality and it was people and that is still the same to this day – we just have to be more resourceful and creative in our approach. 

I believe in building a strong culture of collaboration – two-way communication is key as is everyone pulling in the same direction. Investing in our staff so they can develop their careers within Interstate Hotel and Resorts is really important to me, as is making sure we recognise and reward their effort and achievement by celebrating successes across the team. 

As part of this though, I want all our team members to feel empowered to make decisions so they can give our guests the most memorable and positive experiences when they visit our hotels. I hope this inspires them to do the very best they can, knowing they are supported and valued. 

What are the biggest opportunities in the hospitality industry as it recovers from the pandemic?
Here at Interstate Hotels and Resorts, we are finishing 2021 in a strong position with a larger portfolio than ever before, new hotels opened and plenty more in the pipeline. This is really reassuring as it shows that the hospitality industry is finding its feet and, as a business, that we can quickly adapt to a changing world. 

I expect that the need to continually identify change and respond accordingly will remain, and being as agile as possible is vital. It’s clear that the pandemic has put everything into question and allowed us to look at doing things differently which is an opportunity in itself. We all have a responsibility to continually improve processes and procedures, optimise technology and make the guest journey as streamlined as possible. These are key focuses for us in the year ahead. 

For me personally, presenting the benefits of third-party management and getting even closer with our owners and our brands is also an area to develop. I want to demonstrate how that human touch and being there for one another and taking a thoughtful and caring approach to what we do is beneficial for all parties.  

With COP26 having just taken place in Glasgow, in terms of sustainability, what do you think are the biggest opportunities for the Hospitality Industry?
Sustainability is a top priority for the entire world, not just the hospitality industry and one that we are taking very seriously. As a company, we must take ownership and responsibility for the measurement, delivery and communication of carbon targets across our business. 

Working across different brands and with a variety of professional bodies gives us a unique perspective that benefits our teams and owners.  We need to continue to learn quickly, adopting changes to procedures and guest messaging to make an impact that aligns with a positive guest experience.  

Taking ownership and responsibility and making employees feel proud that together we are tackling some of these issues in an accountable way gives me hope for the future. 

The adoption of technology in hospitality has been forced to leap forward in the last two years. Moving forward, how do you think technology can be best utilised in the industry?
The rate of growth in this area over the last few years is incredible and it’s exciting to see what more is to come. We want to optimise technology wherever we can to provide our guests with a seamless experience and customer journey from beginning to end, whilst retaining the purest sense of the word ‘hospitality’. 

Whether this is using concierge platforms to communicate with guests during their stay or looking at direct communication options with reception teams and the use of apps to provide more targeted guest communication and offers. 

This is also a huge development area within the meetings and events space. Here, we are working with key strategic partners to support meeting planners with smart and effective distribution solutions, offering options to meet virtually where meeting in person isn’t possible, and working with owners to ensure they have the right tech to meet current event planners’ requirements. 

Thank you to David for sharing his inspirational views on the hospitality industry. To discuss how we can support your businesses with our full suite of human capital services to help grow your hospitality business, please call HPG Advisory Services on +44 20 8600 1160 or email Dan Akhtar on dan@hpgsearch.com  

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