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Press Release

04 Mar 2015

Summary from Day 2 of The 18th International Hotel Investment Forum

BERLIN (3 March 2015): The second day of the 18th International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF), opened with President & Chief Executive Officer, Questex, Kerry Gumas presenting Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) with a cheque as part of Questex’s long standing support of the school. André Witschi, President of the Board of Governors at EHL accepted the cheque on behalf of the institute.

The Economic Overview presented by Andrew Kenningham from Capital Economics discussed the global and European markets. The key points from this session included the warning that one of the main risks to the Eurozone was deflation as this would make paying down debt harder, especially in an area which currently has a large amount of debt. He spoke of the growth in the BRIC emerging economies and how the rapid growth in China, which was mostly supported through huge lending, has stabilised slightly to a more sustainable level.

The presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award was made by Ömer Isvan, President, Servotel to Barry Sternlicht, Chairman and Chief Executive Office of Starwood Capital Group. During the interview which followed the presentation, Sternlicht said: “I love the hotel industry because people are involved. There is creativity and it’s a team effort and you are always trying to surprise the guest. At the end of the day, it’s all about people”.  Sternlicht feels like the industry is in an exciting place, “a golden era” and enjoys staying in independent hotels. He believes there are still many opportunities available and to optimise these, you need to appeal to a demographic and there are many demographics that are not currently represented by the existing hotel brands.

This was followed by the presentation of the Young Leader Award to Greg Bows, Founder and Managing Director of African Impact. The award was presented to Bows by Chad Crandell, President of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) who said that “this year’s nominations were nothing short of spectacular”. Bows was described by his sponsor at African Impact as “someone who provides truly unique and mind blowing experiences”.

The ever popular CEOS’ panel concluded the general sessions for the morning. Chaired by Arthur de Haast, Global Chairman Hotels & Hospitality Group, JLL, in discussion with Sébastien Bazin Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Accor; Stephen P. Joyce, President & Chief Executive Officer, Choice Hotels International; David Kong, President  & Chief Executive Officer, Best Western International; Gerald Lawless, President & Group Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group and Arne M. Sorenson, President & Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International, Inc. Notable points from this session included consensus amongst all participants that 2015 looked optimistic for the industry globally with lower oil prices and interest rates contributing to this. Lawless commented that Jumeirah are trading at between 82-85% occupancy on an annualised basis in Dubai and have average rate of upwards of $600. The company is looking at growing from 82,000 keys to 150,000 in 2020. When considering China and the 300,000 of the global 1.3 million rooms in the development pipeline coming from there, Bazin believes that the partnership recently agreed with Accor, Huazhu and China Lodging will be the key to their success in the region. “I don’t believe in competing with the Chinese operators. You need to be there, you need to be visible so the decision is to partner and then you must decide who to partner with”. Kong strongly believes that “people are looking for experience when they travel” and being able to provide this is a significant part of success. Looking at technology, Sorenson feels strongly that it is important that people get value from booking directly with them and referenced the recent move to provide free Wi-Fi to all Marriott members when they book directly. Lawless said if “technology is not helping to personalise the customer experience, it is not working”. He said that converting the 10 million hits on the Jumeirah website last year into as many direct booking guests as possible was one of the company’s priorities. Finally when asked whether Airbnb was impacting the sector, Joyce said that they were big with millennials and “that is something the hotel business should be looking at as it is very relevant for our customer set”.

News from the event included Choice Hotels announcing an agreement with SiteMinder, the leading cloud platform for hotel distribution, which will assist international hotels with managing their online distribution. The agreement will allow Choice’s international properties the unique ability to manage their entire room inventory from one central system.

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) announced that the EHL Foundation has set up a holding company to optimize its operations and hence meet the demands of the global hospitality markets. “EHL SA” is fully owned by the EHL Foundation and will manage EHL's entire portfolio of activities, organized into several specialized business units.

Qbic Hotels announced plans for aggressive expansion in 2015/16. The group intends to spread its acquisition net into Europe, with hot-spots including the likes of Edinburgh, Paris, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Dublin and a second hotel in Amsterdam.  In addition, they will continue to seek new opportunities in London.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) today announced at IHIF the signing of a multiple development agreement (MDA) with Interstar to develop 10 hotels by 2019. The first hotel under the agreement to be signed is Holiday Inn® Frankfurt – Airport. IHG’s growth strategy continues to gain momentum in Germany with over 85 hotels currently either open or planned under MDA agreements.



About Questex
Questex LLC is a leading global business information company headquartered in Newton, Massachusetts, with offices throughout the world dedicated to travel and lodging and driving revenue, productivity and value-creation for these related industries through strategic investment and deal-making forums, powerful lead-generation tools, interactive online business solutions, world-class events and industry-leading publications.

Questex Hospitality + Travel, a division of Questex LLC, provides business development, marketing and training services to national tourism organizations, destination marketing associations, hotels, casinos, resorts, cruise companies, online travel agencies and travel professionals worldwide.  Questex Hospitality + Travel drives business investment, innovation and demand creation in its target markets by bringing investors, buyers, sellers and professionals together through a wide range of business events, informing them through business information and intelligence products and supporting marketers with a comprehensive platform of demand-generation, lead-generation, branding, digital media, events and marketing products and services produced by a professional staff and delivered worldwide. For more information, visit

About IHIF
The International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF), produced by Questex LLC in partnership with Bench Events, is the premier hotel investment conference in the world, attracting the most prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies, tourism and government officials and advisers. Held in Berlin every March, the three-day event is attended by nearly 2,000 people from over 70 countries.  Tactical education and networking functions deliver a powerful return on investment, valuable connections and opportunities for business expansion. Participants gain knowledge of industry trends, available financing and prospective growth markets from experts in the hotel industry. Other events within the IHIF series include: North America Hotel Investment Conference (NATHIC), Asia Pacific Hotel Investment Conference (APHIC), Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference (RHIC) and Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum (MR&H). For more information, visit


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