With the Resort & Residential (R & R) Hospitality Forum recently taking place in Lisbon, we delve into some of the key insights to uncover opportunities in leisure hospitality investment in the Mediterranean and Southern Europe.
This event is run by Questex, the same team behind the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF), which Dan and Mara attended in May, and the Annual Hotel Conference (AHC), which was attended by our colleague, Guy Lean, in September.
Here is a brief summary and some ke takeaways from The Resort & Residential Hospitality Forum
Attendance and Demographics
The forum saw a total of 390 delegates, with an impressive 58% being first-timers. Significantly, 98 of them, which is over 25% of the total count, were investors, proving that leisure hospitality continues to draw attention from varied capital sources.
Theme: Leisure to the Core
This conference has now evolved from its traditional emphasis on beach resorts. It includes a wide variety of leisure offerings like wellness retreats, Alpine resorts and hotels which used to be more corporate-centric but are now welcoming leisure guests. This shift also indicates a new wave of investors who perceive these assets not as fleeting opportunities, but as long-term investments.
The Market’s Perception of Leisure Hospitality
One of the most discussed topics was the resilience of the leisure hospitality sector. Despite the numerous challenges thrown at the travel industry in recent times, including wildfires, air traffic control strikes, and even the aftermath of COVID-19, the demand for leisure hospitality remains strong.
This is evidenced by statistics presented by STR, Hotstats, and tourism economic analyses. This steadfast demand, combined with an observed savings glut during the pandemic, suggests there’s ample room for optimistic growth projections.
Patrick Whyte, from Hospitality Investor, shed light on emerging investment patterns. He highlighted the contrast between struggling transaction volumes in Northern Europe and flourishing ones in Southern Europe, particularly in countries like Portugal, Spain, and Greece. This is likely because of owner-operators and family businesses seeking exits or joint ventures after facing post-COVID challenges.
Supply Evolution and Professionalisation
The forum also touched upon the professionalisation of assets. Opportunistic funds, for instance, are keen to understand how to better position an asset to appeal to long-term buyers. A significant part of this involves understanding modern demand, where travellers seek unique and local experiences, rather than traditional resort offerings.
Climate Change and Extending Seasons
Climate change, which has its set of challenges, is inadvertently offering opportunities by reshaping travel seasons. Investors and hoteliers are capitalising on this by expanding resort seasons, finding profitability in previously off-peak months.
Branded Residential Growth
The conference highlighted a growing interest in branded residences, with large hotel brands like Marriott and Wyndham leading the way. However, they face competition from luxury non-hospitality brands seeing potential in this market.
Destinations in Focus
Southern European destinations are garnering the most investor attention. Greece, particularly, stands out due to supportive government policies and market conditions. Additionally, emerging markets like Montenegro, Bosnia, Slovenia, and Albania were discussed as potential growth areas.
Lastly, the forum emphasised the importance of offering a holistic experience to its delegates. From rooftop receptions to hotel tours, participants had the opportunity to truly experience the best of Lisbon’s hospitality. This reflects the increasing trend for more experiential localised experiences that customers are demanding.
In conclusion, the R&R 2023 was a comprehensive showcase of trends, challenges, and opportunities in the leisure hospitality sector for the Mediterranean and Southern Europe regions.
With a broad range of speakers on various topics, it clearly has its finger on the pulse of the industry and the digital debrief offered through multiple videos on the R & R Digital page is an extremely valuable asset.
Next year’s event is moving to its new home in Athens, tipping its hat to Greece’s growing influence in the hospitality industry.
If you would like to discuss any of the topics shared in this article or would like to speak to us about your people strategy and our advisory services, then please get in touch.
Dan Akhtar, Managing Director of HPG Advisory Services +44 20 8600 1166 / +44 7808 157796 / firstname.lastname@example.org