Over 400 delegates gathered at the Hilton Athens this week for the 5th Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum (MR&H). Hosted by Questex Hospitality Group, MR&H 2019 was the largest gathering of hotel and resort investors, owners and operators – making MR&H the industry’s premier mixed use resort and real estate forum.
The attendees, including investors, developers, owners, tourism ministers and key market stakeholders enjoyed topical and varied conference programme covering distribution strategies – particularly prevalent in a post Thomas Cook world, sustainable tourism development, analysis of the macro geo-political and economic environment, the impact of brands and the inclusion of branded residences in resort developments and investment strategies for hotel and resort real estate projects across the Mediterranean region.
Panel discussions and presentations were set against a back-drop of formal networking amongst the exhibition space and speed networking sessions as well as informal meeting time at both the opening night reception on the rooftop of the Hilton Athens with stunning views across Athens including the floodlight Acropolis and the second night poolside party where delegates enjoyed traditional Greek hospitality.
Although there were variances in regional markets, the overriding sentiment resonating throughout the event was one of optimism for the industry, confidence that the drivers for travel remain and a sincere understanding that sustainable practises are fundamental to the future of the sector. The recent collapse of Thomas Cook was a common conversation and Alexander Schneider, President at Nikki Beach Hotels Resorts commenting: “Every industry has its Nokia moment and the collapse of Thomas Cook was the hospitality industry’s Nokia moment; a company that didn’t react fast enough to a changing environment”. A panel of investors active in the industry discussed the opportunities and challenges of resort investment with one investor saying: “There is going to be some softening coming and managing the exposure is critical. Don’t be too exposed to either leisure or corporate markets.”
Observing trends in geo-politics and the economy and the likely impact on the hospitality industry, economist Thanos Papasavvas said: “Hotel yields will decline further as the search for yield and ample liquidity continues to squeeze the market”. Natalie Weisz from STR drilled down into the regions and highlighted the significant opportunity in Greece for the brands; “Greece has the highest percentage of independent hotels – only 18% of hotels in Greece are branded – and against the rest of the world, Greece has the second highest RevPar for branded hotels (after Israel)”.
The importance of understanding travellers motivations remains central to planning, development and forward thinking and Lyublena Dimova from the European Travel Commission presented findings showing that multiple destination travel is a USP of Europe – the combination of contrasting but well-connected countries is the Europe’s top advantages in the eyes of overseas travellers.
The results of the MR&H Top Resort Awards were announced during the closing plenary. The winners of the Top Resort Award In Operation was the Wyndham Grand, Crete Mirabello Bay and winner of the Top Resort Award In Development was the Ikos Andalusia.
Alexi Khajavi, Managing Director of EMEA, Questex Hospitality Group said : “it was never going to be an easy task to deliver an event that accurately and honestly reflected the variety of factors, topics and considerations to investing and developing a mixed-use resort in one of the many Mediterranean territories. It a complex conversation but a vital one and I am enormously proud to have hosted, with my talented team, a forum that facilitated those conversations, encouraged debate but ultimately connected people who share a common goal. Ours is a human powered industry and there is nothing more meaningful that forging those connections, cementing existing ones and enjoying a great experience whilst doing so”.
MR&H 2020 will be held at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura in Portugal on the 19-21 October 2020. Looking ahead to next year, Luís Araújo, President of Turismo de Portugal, the National Tourism Authority said: “We are honoured to be the host country of the 2020 MR&H, an excellent opportunity to share the uniqueness of our traditions, culture and people, but also the secret of why this is the time to invest in Portugal. We’re sure the success of the 2020 MR&H will be translated in more businesses for the participants and a better understanding why Portugal is today the Leading Destination of the World”.
Source : Company