2022 Preview Part One: ESG, investment and a return to normal

sunrise over London
Sunrise over London. (ZoltanGabor/Getty Images)

To kick-off the New Year we thought we'd get the views of senior figures from across the industry to find out what is on their mind. Here's the first part of our preview.

What are you looking out for in 2022?

Lionel Benjamin, co-founder of Ago Hotels: In 2022, we believe the investor market will begin to see rents are being strained across all asset classes, and having a hybrid lease in place is a fresh alternative that allows investors to stay in the sector and to deliver robust returns on investment. And at a time when there will potentially be some downturn in pricing, a hybrid lease will allow new entrants or existing hotel aficionados to get back into the sector with assets they may not have initially been able to acquire. We see the industry moving to a more flexible model like ours in 2022, as we continue to adapt to a new way of working, living and now investing. 

Owen Pritchard, executive director at CBRE Hotels: ESG will be a key focus for hotel operators, owners and investors as they look to build and operate hotels more sustainably. Change will also be driven by guests who want to ensure their hotel stay does not come at the cost of an unacceptable environmental footprint or poor social practices. As such, the importance of ESG considerations is becoming paramount across the entire hotel sector.

Laura Brinkmann, VP private equity at Brookfield Asset Management: A world, where covid plays a marginal role with a more normalised transaction and trading environment. Operationally, we will be leveraging the best practice from our more established businesses across our new investments. 

Jon Colley, executive vice president of acquisitions and development: The end of covid please! Picking up the recovery momentum, which started in May 2021 both from an operational and real estate point of view. We’re really excited to deliver on our secured pipeline projects, which includes properties in Croatia, London and now Italy. 

Alexander Trobitz, managing director - head of hotel services at BNP Paribas Real Estate: Quite positive – we expect a good year for hotel investment and advisory as the industry has to adopt to the coming obstacles – and is quite successful in doing so. 

Are you optimistic or pessimistic for the hotel industry in 2022?

Lionel Benjamin: We are definitely optimistic about the future of the hotel industry in 2022 and beyond. We have an innate desire as human beings to travel, either domestically or internationally. Anyone who has been in the hotel sector for a while and has been through the ups and downs of recessions and world crises, will know the industry is robust and resilient. We have reacted effectively to health and safety issues, adapted our ways of working and provided safe and secure accommodation since opening. We have learned to live with compliance as part of day-to-day operations, looking after our teams and looking after our guests, and we will continue to do so in 2022 because that’s what hospitality is about. 

Owen Pritchard: We are cautiously optimistic, with the expectation that hotel performance will strengthen, predominantly led by demand from leisure travellers. The easing of travel restrictions in the summer and strong domestic demand have supported the recovery of the sector, however the emergence of the new variant plus recruitment and retention of staff remains a pressing challenge for many operators.

Laura Brinkmann: Definitely optimistic, both on the operational side and the transaction side.

Jon Colley: I am the eternal optimist, my glass is always half full! You didn’t expect me to say anything else, did you? 

Alexander Trobitz: Definitely optimistic! It must become better – no other scenario allowed!