“Ritratto”, con intervista esclusiva , di Małgorzata Dybaś, Managing Director di HAM –Hotel Asset Management, Polonia : « Venite da noi, nell’ hotel industry siamo agli albori e quindi c’è “strong potential” »

di Paola G. Lunghini.

A portrait/ interview  by Paola G. Lunghini ( Portrait in Italian, Interview in English).

Non assomiglia affatto allo stereotipo, come lo conosciamo noi, della donna polacca ( le donne polacche sono donne “ formidabili”, potrebbero dare punti alle “ vichinghe “ )  la mia amica Małgorzata Dybaś.  Non fosse per la corporatura minuta , bella com’è potrebbe sembrare piuttosto (  la  pur splendida foto qui in pagina le rende giustizia sino a un certo punto, ndr)  una  perfetta “ bond  girl” :   bocca piuttosto larga,  e grandi ( anzi , nel suo caso enormi) occhi azzurri che volgono al grigio. Capelli  castani tendenti al biondo che si presentano «come si devono presentare  i capelli di una ragazza : spettinati , con ciocche scomposte  e scriminatura tortuosa». (  Sto citando, si capisce, cfr Nota).

Bene ,  pur con codesto gradevolissimo aspetto  ( un altro stereotipo vorrebbe orride le donne che si occupano di economia, ndr )  la mia amica Małgorzata  – che  vuol dire Margherita, ma la pronuncia polacca  è assolutamente ostica e quindi io la chiamo Meg- , ancorchè giovanissima,  è uno dei maggiori  “ expert” della  hotel industry  del suo Paese.  Partiamo allora dall’ inizio.

Nata nel 1983 a Toruń , nel Nord  della Polonia,  Meg , dopo brillanti studi liceali  “ classici” , si trasferisce a Varsavia, dove si laurea in Economia.  Già che c’è, alla  Warsaw  School of  Economics  si prende anche un Master. Come tutti i polacchi che si rispettino, padroneggia altre tre lingue oltre alla propria : il suo inglese è già perfetto, conosce il francese ma le piace, in particolare, lo spagnolo. E allora, già che c’è, va a farsi un corso  di International Management  all’ Istituto  Tecològico  Autònomo di  Città del Messico.

Conquistato anche questo diploma, Meg inizia un Intership  nel  Dipartimento di Financial Advisory  di Deloitte, a Varsavia. Conclusa l’ esperienza, passa alla società di consulenza immobiliare internazionale King Sturge ( ora JLL) . Ci resta un paio d’ anni, e già pensa di “ mettersi in proprio” nel real estate, che molto la interessa,  e in particolare nella lodging industry.  Gli anni  che seguono  li trascorre però soprattutto in Horwath ( una delle maggiori  e storiche società di advisory nel settore hotellerie  del mondo ),  dove si occupa di tematiche domestiche e internazionali : market & feasibility studies, operational audits, investment valuation, preparing transaction documents, audits of management & franchise contracts, operator search & selection .

Poi approda alla HAM – Hotel Asset Management ( grande società di consulenza  che appunto nel comparto agisce , con HQ a Vienna, e uffici in Repubblica Ceca, Croazia, Germania, Ungheria, Olanda, Polonia, Russia, Slovacchia,  Spagna, Ucraina e UK  ) che  ben presto le affida, nel 2013, la direzione generale dell’ ufficio di Varsavia.

 

Ora dunque, come Managing Director di HAM Poland, Meg si occupa, in particolare, di building clients’ & contractors’ network, managing & co-managing projects, acquiring new mandates in Poland.

Buona sportiva ( ma ora il tempo per praticare le molte discipline che le piacciono è purtroppo molto poco) , Meg ama la musica e le buone letture .

Scopriamo che siamo entrambe fanatiche della serie televisiva inglese “ Downton Abbey”, e questo cementerà definitivamente la nostra recente amicizia. Potremmo conversare di Downton per ore, ma dobbiamo invece parlare del suo lavoro, cioè di economia del turismo e di investimenti alberghieri…

 

Meg, le chiedo allora , come “ va”  l’ economia  del turismo nel Tuo Paese, che tanto “ turistico “ a noi non sembra proprio ?

Ecco la sua risposta ( che trasferisco direttamente in inglese, certissima come sono che i miei lettori l’ inglese lo leggono e magari pure lo parlano).

 

«Poland is a very sought after tourist market with the number of visitors still being on the increase. At the same time, more and more hotels are opening doors. Poland’s popularity among tourists – both foreign and domestic – has been growing and there seems to be no end in sight for this positive trend. Demand has been on the rise for several years now – an annual increase of eight per cent on average – and so have occupancy rates. While domestic tourists continue to account for the lion’s share of all hotel stays in the country, this now seems to be changing, particularly in the metropolises. In Warsaw, for example, foreigners already account for 42 per cent of all hotel guests. In the city centre of the Polish capital they even make up 54 per cent. Also, the Euro 2012 football championships, which Poland co-hosted with Ukraine, had a very positive effect, raising interest for Poland among Western European tourists. While the number of Russian tourists coming to Poland may have decreased due to the crisis in Ukraine, there are no signs that foreign tourists have started to view Poland as less safe than before».

 

E qual’è la situazione dell’ hotel investment market  nel Tuo Paese?

 

«Yet, the hotel investment market in Poland is still in its infancy, compared to many of the Western European countries. While several smaller assets located across the country changed hands in 2014, the recent acquisition of the “Hampton by Hilton Warsaw City Centre” hotel by Union Investment was practically the only transaction of this larger scale completed in the hotel property market in Poland last year. Many investors continue to view the hotel property investment market in Poland as not offering sufficiently good exit options. But the improvement of hotel indicators, the presence of more and more hotel chains, very high real estate prices in key European markets such as London, Paris or Munich are now starting to convince even large groups of investors to consider purchasing existing hotels in Poland. There is, for example, rising interest from German, French, British and American companies who are actively looking for hotels to buy not only in Warsaw and Kraków, but also Wrocław and Gdańsk. What is more, the crisis in Ukraine has, paradoxically, had a positive effect on the Polish hotel investment market. Those investors who previously planned to put their money in Ukraine and Russia are now withdrawing from those markets and moving west, allocating their capital in countries like Poland. Until now, the majority of investors were interested in lease agreements, but now hotels with management contracts are also in their portfolios. Due to the oversupply in the office market in Warsaw, developers are looking for alternatives and the hotel market provides a significant one».

 

Logico a questo punto chiederle  : Meg, quali sono le prospettive per l’ anno in corso, e quali  i “ segmenti” di maggior interesse?

 

«Generally, the outlook for 2015 is promising, both in terms of new developments as well as investment transactions. The number of visitors is again predicted to grow significantly. We will certainly see more interest in medical spa centres. Also, the development of the MICE markets Kraków and Katowice, where new high class conference properties have been opened, can have a positive impact on the local hotel markets».

 

Ecco, Meg, parliamo un po’ di quella splendida città che è Cracovia. Io ci sono stata  alcuni anni orsono, e per diversi giorni. Ma Cracovia non mi era sembrata  certo una  business destination… e non ricordo grandi brand alberghieri.

 

«Kraków had a record year in 2014. Approximately 9.9 million people, including 2.6 million tourists from abroad, visited the city during that period. Admittedly, the city has been attracting leisure tourists for a long time now. However, what is interesting, is the fact that the on-going development of the market for business process outsourcing (BPO) in Kraków has recently also led the city to emerge as a major business travel destination. Warsaw remains the second most important tourist destination in Poland, even though its position – compared to that of Kraków – has recently weakened a bit. What would certainly help to further enhance the tourism and hotel industries in the city, is the development of a large-scale conference facility, able to accommodate several thousand people. Occupancy rates have also been growing in the Tri-City area as well as in Katowice».

 

Ecco, i  brand …

 

«The supply of hotel bedrooms in Poland has been growing in recent years by annually 5.6 per cent on average. In the big cities like Warsaw, Krakow and the Tri-City area around Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot there is literally a hotel building boom. Among the fastest-expanding brands are those of Accor/Orbis (currently 64 hotels in Poland), Louvre Hotels (16 hotels) and Hilton (ten hotels). A number of other brands are considering expanding into Poland at the moment. Starwood,for instance, would like to introduce its 3- star Aloft brand to Polish cities like Warsaw, Kraków, Wroclaw and Gdańsk. Also,several German hotel companies, including Steigenberger with its 3-star InterCity Hotel brand, Leonardo and Meininger are planning to introduce interesting hotel concepts to the Polish market. In this context, it is worth remembering that German tourists account for a large portion of all foreign tourists coming to Poland. But also Polish brands like Puro and Focus are expanding ».

 

Torniamo alla capitale, Varsavia, dove i prezzi  delle camere , anche negli alberghi di lusso, mi sembrano decisamente  più bassi delle medie europee…

 

«Investors want to have prestigious trophy assets in their portfolios. But particularly in Warsaw, there is no room for new five-star hotel developments. At current room prices, such investments are simply not justifiable in business terms. A four-star project is the maximum that investors should be focusing on in the Polish capital. What Poland now really needs are, most notably, new budget hotels, above all in the key cities. Since tod ate – with the exception of Motel One and B&B – expansion plans in the budget sector are limited, this segment provides strong potential for investors».

 

OK, vedremo.  Nel frattempo,  però,  vi siete “ inventati” ( o “ scoperti”) , come dicevi sopra, un segmento di business del tutto nuovo, quello delle “medical spa”.

 

«Yes, another growing trend is medical spas. Poland has very competitive prices compared to Western Europe, but at the same time a high quality of medical services. Hotels can benefit from the new Cross- Border Healthcare Guideline which will facilitate medical treatments of EU citizens in any country of the community. So this may also be a promising path for investors to focus on».

 

La Tua società , oltre che nell’ advisory a tutto campo, è anche molto attiva nell’ organizzazione di eventi “ mirati” all’  hotellerie: quali sono i prossimi impegni?

«The “Spotlight Hotel Investment Poland Conference”, in Warsaw, on June 16. This year’s speakers guarantee a top quality discussion with interesting insights for the market. One topic in particular will raise the temperature of the event – the need to build a world class Convention Centre.  The session, entitled ‘What kind of congress centre does Warsaw need?’ will start with a presentation by Mateusz Czerwiński, Director of the Warsaw Convention Bureau, who will engage with the MICE & hospitality industry to hear their wishes and requirements. Following this there will be an open dialogue between the hotel industry and Michał Olszewskithe Vice Mayor of Warsaw, and including Olgierd Jagiełło from JEMS Architekci, the architecture firm which designed the International Congress Centre in Katowice.

E, poi, c’è un altro evento importantissimo, a novembre …

« Yes,  the 8th International Hotel Investment & Design Club Forum 2015 , on Thursday 19 November 2015  in Vienna. This Forum is the leading annual meeting place for the hospitality and design industry with a focus on the CEE,CIS, Russia and West Africa regions. Attend this event and you will find a valuable platform from which to promote your business and an incredibly valuable toll for gaining inside information and meeting business partners.

Cara Meg, il tuo CEO mi ha già invitato a far parte del vostro Team a Vienna , come “ Lead  Moderator”, e ho già accettato. Quindi ci rivedremo a novembre a Vienna . Intanto,  “Pozdrawiam” ( Kind regards) !

Nota : tratto da  «The  Book of  Bond – Or Every Man His Own 007 » , Jonathan  Cape Ltd, 1965

Testata giornalistica non registrata ai sensi dell’Art.3 bis del D.L. 18 maggio 2012, n. 63 convertito in Legge 16.07.2012 n°103

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