The industry’s highlight of the year, the IHIF, took place for the 21st time this week. We are looking back to three great conference days, filled many insightful and inspiring talks, discussions and networking moments.
Day one started with “The Owners’ View”, a panel discussion hosted by Jonathan Langston, co-founder of HotStats. Cody Bradshaw, Managing Director and Head of Starwood Capital Group Europe, announced the group’s investment activities in Yotel to expand their portfolio. The benefit of this high-tech lifestyle concept are the compact room sizes. Starwood was able to turn around a specific property in Edinburgh of 160 rooms to create 240 Yotel rooms. Combined with an increased operational efficiency, this creates a compelling owner return compared to traditional hotel concepts.
Day two followed with industry highlights of the extended-stay sector. After the acquisition of the SACO Property Group by Brookfield Property Partners, the investment giant invited conference delegates to the Brookfield & SACO investor presentation. The group showcased their newest property launch of The Wittenberg in Amsterdam. This leads to the fact that the group has now 152bn USD under management, a clear sign that institutional investors are taking the serviced apartment sector serious. SACO announced to have further hotel developments in their pipeline amongst a dual-branded development between Locke Hotels and Hyatt Centric in Cambridge, UK.
On day three, the IHIF focused on the serviced apartment sector. Jonathan Humphries led a talk with industry experts, guiding them with the central question of “Where is the opportunity within serviced apartments?”
Panelists benchmarked the fact that four-star aparthotels can be more profitable on a per square meter basis than four-star hotels. Developers and owners can compete through a compression of space, innovative room design and great public areas. To take the product further, extended-stay properties can be fine-tuned with co-working and similar concepts: dual-brands, co-working, co-living (the use of shared common facilities) rise in importance, while kitchens for serviced apartments remain absolutely essential for all target markets.
While the supply side is catching up to the consumer demands, the sector is experiencing a broad spectrum of new target markets. Today, corporate buyers are looking to place teams and individuals in serviced-apartments of secondary as well as primary location. Proximity to clients, suppliers, and activities is key. However, the development side needs to make a careful selection of ancillary services and facilities to be able to offer the right product.
With this years’ theme, ‘Reaching New Heights’ the conference broadened the industry’s horizon: new products, new segments and new players have shown us new potentials that lay within the hospitality industry.
We look forward to seeing you again next year at the 22nd addition IHIF.