IHIF: International Hotel Investment Forum 2019
There seemed more delegates than ever at this years International Hotel Investment Forum, with as much activity and networking taking place at the Pullman Hotel across the street as at the main event at the Inter-Continental!
Sebastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of Accor Hotels contextualised their new lifestyle loyalty programme Accor Live Limitless (ALL). This programme will offer rewards, services and experiences across the entire ecosystem, bringing value to everyday life at work. As executive recruitment specialists, it was most interesting to learn of Sebastien’s decision to recruit the talent to pull this new platform together from outside of the hospitality sector. He turned to airline backgrounds and to Centurion to find the best ‘loyalty’ experts in the market.
Tim Arthur of the Need to Know Club had a strong message: ‘Be Human – We’re storytelling animals’ in his piece on customer experience in a changing market. His story demonstrating a deeply human response by The Royal Mail to a boy sending a letter to heaven for his Dad’s birthday, illustrated that even big companies can excel when employees are empowered to deliver outstanding customer experience. Meanwhile, Malmaison Hotels’ super-sized shampoo and shower gels – ‘better than you have at home’ showed how they succeed in extending the life of a guest’s stay by encouraging them to take the products home with them.
Brian Kaufman received the 2019 Young Leader Award. Brian founded The Kaufman Companies – an asset management and investment business at the age of 33, after a successful career at Goldman Sachs and Highgate Capital.
The final panel on the last day of the IHIF was the CEO Panel – ‘Evolving Hospitality: The Trends Shaping the Future of Hospitality’. The panel discussed home accommodation brands, stating that in 5 years’ time, all of the major hotel brands will have a home accommodation brand in their portfolio. When asked about the number of operators, Merilee Karr, Founder and CEO of UnderTheDoormat said “in an industry that is growing at 30% each year, there is space for a lot of players.” When talking about the number of brands, Amar Lalvani (pictured), CEO & Managing Partner at Standard International, said “repeat bookings are totally driven by the experience on property – the number of hotels and brands doesn’t matter”. The subject of loyalty and providing experiences concluded the session.
This year’s IHIF would not have been complete without talk on Brexit. The highly informed Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality reminded the audience that ‘deal or no deal’ employees and visitors to and from Europe will suffer no restrictions during the transition period to 31/12/2020, with another positive spin being that the Hospitality and Tourism sector is now identified by the Government as one of the top six sectors for future investment and growth, putting aside historical complacency about the sector.
Managing Director – Hotels, Leisure & Travel
Lesley heads psd‘s Hotel, Hospitality, Leisure & Travel sectors at board, senior executive and management level on a global basis. She is very active personally delivering executive search and senior assignments across these sectors.