Adapting to the new leisure demand: Q&A with Christie & Co’s Edgar Ollé

Edgar Ollé Christie & Co
Edgar Ollé, Managing Director of Spain and Portugal, Christie & Co

Edgar Ollé was recently appointed as Managing Director of Spain and Portugal at international hotel property adviser Christie & Co. He brings his experience of the market and his knowledge of operator and brand selection after his previous role as an executive director at Marriott International. He shares his thoughts on the opportunities in leisure hospitality and in the Spanish market in particular, ahead of his participation to the Resort & Residential Hospitality Forum (R&R).

Hospitality Insights: How has the Covid-19 crisis changed the leisure hospitality landscape?

Edgar Ollé: Hospitality leading companies will have to adapt fast to the new leisure demand. There is an important number of leisure travellers ready to start travelling now that restrictions begin to be lifted. We have seen that during the last 18 months, as soon as there were open corridors between countries, travellers were booking and hotels were feeling the appetite from other markets.

Hotels and other hospitality companies will have to rethink about new experiences, products and other services that the new leisure market will request, a much more tech and personalised experience will be demanded by this post-pandemic guest.

In conclusion, there is a pent-up demand in the leisure market that is willing to spend time abroad with new experiences, and the sector needs to be ready to fulfill their expectations.

Hospitality Insights: How is the Spanish hospitality market likely to evolve in the coming years?

Ollé: The Spanish market is one of the most attractive from many points of view, from the leisure and business traveller, being in 2019 the second country most visited in the world, to the investors, a region in which transactions are starting to pick up and we are seeing already in Q3 2021 pre-pandemic levels of investment.

Hospitality Insights: Are we to expect more consolidation, more transactions, new players?

Ollé: One of the biggest players in 2021 has been Hyatt with the acquisition of Apple Leisure Group which will position the hotel company in the top of the resort market.  According to the company, they will double its resort portfolio in Caribbean and Europe.

In general, I believe that in the next few months we will be seeing more of this type of transactions. 

Hospitality Insights: The pandemic has had a strong impact on the relations between operators, owners, and all stakeholders in hospitality. What do you expect to be the lasting effect of this change?

Ollé: There will be a change of sentiment with some specific type of business models, as we all have seen a lot of lease contracts that have been renegotiated and some of them flipped to management or hybrids, which only a few years ago would not have been considered as an option by many Hotel Owners.

The future is unpredictable, but it is sure that there will be a good opportunity for international players to land in the market using all their tools such as loyalty programmes, technology, localised franchise and management contracts, and other important factors that every hotelier should take into consideration, like the quality of guests that those international players captivate for the hotels and the synergies between brands even across borders.

Hospitality Insights: What travel and hospitality trends will have the biggest impact on the resort market?

Ollé: The personalised experience is becoming everyday much more important in resort destinations. Big hotel companies started several years ago with this kind of ‘experience’ using their collection brands which is now being moved to the resort world. The ‘experience’ was something new several years ago, but it is and will be the key player when trying to differentiate from your competitor. Attached to this, there are several aspects to consider, such as local design, food and concerns for the environment.

Hospitality Insights: What are your looking forward to with regards to your participation to R&R?

Ollé: I am looking forward to meeting all our hospitality colleagues, to feel the positive future that our industry is facing and to connect with new players that can add value to our market.

Edgar Ollé will interview Dillip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotels, at the Resort & Residential Hospitality Forum (R&R), taking place at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura Algarve Resort on 25-27 October.