Adria Hotel Forum (AHF), the leading hotel investment conference in Southeast Europe, opened yesterday in Zagreb, at the Hilton Garden Inn, where more than 300 participants, prominent international hotel owners, investors, representatives of global management companies and experts in the field gathered in one place. finance and consulting.
The conference was opened after welcoming speeches by Toni Bilušić, Deputy Head of the City Office for Economy, Energy and Environmental Protection, and Tonči Glavina, State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Croatia. Marina Franolić, founder of the Adria Hotel Forum and now director of Central and Eastern Europe Bench Events, and Jonathan Worsley, President of Bench Events, who expressed satisfaction that they are the organizers of the AHF for the first time. Namely, Bench Events, as a world-famous organizer of hotel conferences, has acquired AHF, which is now taking place as an event as part of a new series of hotel investment conferences called "IDEA“, Focused on the regions of Central, Southern and Eastern Europe and the CIS.
Numerous speakers in the first part of the conference discussed the future of the hotel industry and plans for its development in five and ten years, respectively. The general conclusion is that investors have a great interest in investing in this region and that this is the right time for governments to be even better prepared and offer more to attract them.
Jonathan Worsley, The CEO of Bench Events led the first panel discussion in which they participated James Chappell, global business director of Horwath HTL, Markus Lehnert, Vice President of Hotel Development at Marriot International, Frank Reul, Head of Development for Eastern Europe from AccorHotels and Stefan Trienen, Google Leader for Eastern and Central Europe and Africa. They concluded that the only thing I can say with certainty is that things will change drastically in the next few years, all accompanied by the further development of digital technology that allows customers, potential travelers to quickly and easily book accommodation anywhere in the world on their smartphones. . All companies will adapt even more to this and base their development on following the wishes of their potential clients who are increasingly looking for and expecting from hotel companies.
Thomas Emanuel, the director of STR gave an overview of hotel performance from a global to local perspective, and then Siniša Topalović from Horwath HTL gave an assessment of investments in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Albania and Montenegro.
Investors are very interested in investing, not only in the hotel sector in this region, and the greatest potential, looking at the advantages and disadvantages, currently has Montenegro. He assessed Croatia as a tourist country in that area as the most attractive.
This was followed by a discussion on state aid being offered to attract investors. The panel led the discussion James Chappel, and they talked about what they offer Tonči Glavina from the Croatian Ministry of Tourism, and his colleagues from the Ministries of Serbia, Slovenia and Montenegro Renata Pinjo, Eva Strauss Podlogar i Damir Davidović. All of these countries are currently in the focus of the investment community and each strives in its own way to attract them and facilitate their investments with financial, fiscal and other benefits. They also concluded that everyone in their country must invest in people, because this resource is becoming increasingly important to investors who will invest where labor is available.
How investors perceive the region of Southeast Europe and how to attract investors were discussed under the guidance of Christian Schuster from Uniline Ivana Budin Arhanić, Vice President for Development at Valamar Riviera, Reuel Slonim, President of the Management Board of Arena Hospitality Group, Nicola Lichtenberg, senior manager of hotel acquisitions and transactions from Aroundtown SA and Clive Hiller from Collier. Arena and Valamar, as they pointed out, have already started the expansion of their business outside Croatia. Specifically Arena in Hungary and Germany, and Valamar in Austria where they bought hotels. There is a strong investment in the existing portfolio, especially the facilities are repositioned and rearranged into 4 and 5 stars, because such investments bring the largest and fastest return on capital.
Although there are powerful local companies in Croatia that own most of the accommodation capacities, with Valamar in the first position, it was concluded that there is room for other investors, noting that investments should be made in medium category hotels, ie 2 and 3 stars.
Despite the challenges, Croatia and the markets in the rest of this region are extremely attractive to foreign investors due to their excellent position and natural beauty, concluded this panel.