IHIF 2022: hospitality ready to seize opportunities

The global hospitality industry is ready to embrace opportunities, innovate, improve profitability and take action on sustainability and staffing according to leaders speaking at the opening day of the industry-leading event, the International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF)

panel discussion on stage at IHIF 2022

Day one of IHIF 2022 saw the core focus of people, planet and profit covered in a raft of dynamic sessions attended by over 2,400 forward-thinking investors, owners and developers. Although the impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry was highlighted throughout the day’s sessions, the key message was that despite the impact of the pandemic the industry is now forging ahead with more resilience, collaboration, creativity and vision.

“We are thrilled to be back in Berlin for such a cerebral global event,” said Alexi Khajavi, Group President, Questex Travel and Hospitality.  “IHIF 2022 is a unique platform for staging announcements and launches, brokering partnerships and networking across the hospitality spectrum as well as challenging and inspiring stronger thinking.”

delegates at IHIF 2022

Image credit: IHIF / Simon Callaghan

Questex CEO Paul Miller, who opened the conference in Berlin with Alexi Khajavi, President Travel and Hospitality, said the Covid-19 pandemic had given hospitality ‘fresh perspectives’ on business and that it was in a prime position to move forward after this pivotal time.

In the first discussion – CBRE Capital Talks: Hotel Capital Markets Update – chaired by Kenneth Hatton of CBRE, major investors discussed opportunities presented by the pandemic, such as the increase in availability of office and retail stock. The Ukraine war is also fuelling uncertainty, warned Coley Brenan of KSL Capital who, with fellow panellist Christopher Oka of Angelo Gordon concluded with a plea for the industry to drive sustainability. Further sessions throughout the day made it clear that the industry must drive sustainability with ESG policies now at the heart of many investment and operational decisions.

Panel discussion at IHIF 2022 Questex InterContinental Hotel Berlin

Image credit: IHIF / Simon Callaghan

In KPIs for ESG in Hospitality Investment, panellists, including Catherine Dolton of IHG and Inge Huijbrechts, Radisson Hotels, discussed the KPIs for taxonomy compliance while Ufi Ibrahim, CEO Energy & Environment Alliance and her fellow panellists in Sustainable Operations: How to Operate Sustainably and Profitably, urged hoteliers and investors to start making changes now.

Ibrahim, who set out to get investors on board with her ESG mission from the start, said: “Regulation is here and we need to take action, but it is important that action is meaningful. The industry has been damaged by greenwashing so don’t promote something unless it is genuinely making a difference.”

Innovation and the need to be different was a key theme running throughout the day’s discussions. At Adjacent Spaces, the think-tank for hospitality’s innovators and game-changers held alongside IHIF, Stephen McCall, CEO Edyn said the pandemic had given operators the impetus to be more disruptive.

“We don’t have data from the last two years but intuitively we do things that feel right,” said McCall. ” Sometimes you have to take a punt and model a future you want.”

This was mirrored by Natalia Kolotneva from La Salle Investment Management in the Adjacent Spaces session Investing in Hybrid Hospitality, as she urged operators to be innovative: “Be proud of the products you are developing and develop products people want to use. Be more nimble, more creative, more forward looking.”

One aspect linking all areas of discussion and the industry was the conversation around ‘experience’, highlighting that customer’s expectations are changing, with new customer groups demanding more transparency, creativity and flexibility – a topic that will be explored further in The Big Conversation – an interview with Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin on Thursday 5 May.

Other highlights to come include an award ceremony and Q&A with IHIF Lifetime Achievement Award winner, former Best Western CEO David Kong and sessions covering people, innovation, investment and more.

IHIF, an event that Hotel Designs is a proud media partner of, takes place in Berlin on May 3 – 5.

Main image credit: IHIF