2022 Preview Part Two: Increased transactions and experiential hospitality

summer holiday
Summer holiday relaxation. (anyaberkut/Getty Images)

In the second part of our 2022 preview we hear from more senior leaders from across the hospitality industry. Most are hopeful for a better year with certain trends and themes emerging. 

What are you looking out for in 2022?

Roger Allen, group CEO, RLA Global: Resorts investing in the experiential side of operations and exploring how to deliver services with a difference that guests are willing to buy and justify the investment and ROI.

Philip Bacon, senior director, Horwath HTL: I think we are all looking out for more permanent signs of the re-birth that we have been waiting for over the last 20 months or so. The first quarter of 2022 is now facing increased uncertainty thanks to new waves of infection and so all eyes are on next summer for signs of “normality” and many will be hoping to repeat the success they had this summer. 

I shall be especially looking out for a move towards new development as the supply of existing asset transactions may well start to dry up. There is still a great deal of cash looking for opportunities in the hospitality sector, but there is probably more supply than demand.

Michael Grove, chief operating officer, Hotstats: Hotel operators being highly attuned to converting revenue to profit. The environment will be challenging, but there are already signs of effective rooms revenue management as hoteliers hold out for rate. We expect to see a greater focus on revenue management across all income earning areas and an intelligent application of cost control to ensure conversion to bottom line as operators  seek to deliver on owners’ expectations of returns on investment.

Carl Ridgley, partner - hospitality EMEA, at Cushman & Wakefield: A return to greater levels of transactional activity. Hopefully we will see more assets come to market.   

Andreas Ewald, founder and managing partner, Engel & Völkers Hotel Consulting: In 2022 the industry will come back stronger, the pandemic accelerated important topics and forced to focus on issues such as digitalization, staffing and ESG. Interest rates and yields of other asset classes remain painfully low so higher capital flows into hotel investment sector. Also digitalisation: how and where can you get the data from (which is not based on the volatile pandemic past) to paint a better picture of current and future information – uncertainty of customer flows and adapted customer behaviour.

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

Roger Allen: Cautiously optimistic.  Although the new variant of coronavirus remains a concern, it is no longer a complete unknown and the industry has shown it can adapt to these challenges, thrive and come out even stronger. The appetite for travel is high and that is something that we now know will outlast any crisis. 
   
Philip Bacon: I am always optimistic about our industry. It has a proven track record for adaptability, despite whatever crisis is happening at any given time. Change has been forced on us by circumstances, but this change is always needed and the industry will emerge leaner and more focused from the current challenges. The fundamentals of travel and tourism remain integral to the global economy but the industry needs to accept that consumers will be making greater demands on the providers of hospitality products and services in response to a resetting of fundamental values and the acceleration of many trends that had started pre-Covid-19.

Michael Grove: This is the million pound question. Yes in general, as long as ramp up continues in the right direction we should consider it positive. Returning to pre-pandemic levels maybe not, but as much as costs are on the rise, I feel that the industry is much better geared to handle any large drops in top line demand.

Carl Ridgley: There remains a great deal to be optimistic about. The speed at which demand recovered in 2021 demonstrated the desire to travel and has really helped confidence.   

Andreas Ewald: I’m optimistic.