In Sync - the diversification of hospitality

George Sell George Sell Uploaded 20 May 2020

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Global: With the International Hotel Investment Forum postponed until 2021, organiser Questex has launched In Sync, a two-day online event.

The second day included a session on the diversification of hospitality and hotelisation of real estate, which included numerous references to serviced apartments.

Laura Brinkmann, VP at Brookfield, claimed that "younger travellers with disposable income will be the first demand group to rebound as governments lift restrictions. In the medium to long term, hostels and serviced apartments and anyone who caters to a younger audience will do well."

Puneet Kanuga, head of hospitality investments at Queensgate Investments LLP, echoed her thoughts: "Even though it offers communal accommodation, Generator has not been asked to close in any country. Hostels will bounce back quicker than many other sectors. Younger people are going to return to travel quickly. They are not as affected by and not as scared of the virus as other demographics."

Hubert Viriot, CEO of Yotel, observed that "Covid-19 is accelerating some trends which were already evident in our industry - less interaction with guests, more IT, automatic check-ins, grab and go replacing room service, less frequent cleaning and so on. Customers pick and choose when they want to socialise and when they want to interact with staff. Going cashless will also accelerate this."

Peter Heule, CEO of Amsterdam-based serviced apartment operator Short Stay Group & Yays, saw things from a different angle: "Hospitality is about real people and real experiences. The real estate is a way to showcase hospitality. Europeans will be quicker moving back to relative normality when compared with the US and the UK."

Looking to the post-Covid hospitality landscape, Brinkmann said: "Asset classes which will prosper include student accommodation and serviced apartments. Our serviced apartment platform edyn has performed very well during the crisis relative to hotels. We are very keen on the sector, and you will potentially see us expand the platform and grown in the sector.

Asked about repurposing properties, she said: "In primary markets, most hotels will likely stay as hotels, but in secondary markets I can see there being conversions in to serviced apartments."

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