IHIF Q&A: Recovery unlikely to happen in uniform manner says CBRE

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Owen Pritchard is CBRE Hotels’ Executive Director and COO, and a member of the Advisory Board of the International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF). He shares the company’s views on recovery in the hospitality sector, key growth segments, and ESG goals.

What is CBRE’s main area of focus in 2021?

Supporting our clients through the recovery. Our teams have been incredibly busy since the start of the year across all our lines of business, valuations, advisory, investment properties and debt advisory. Major areas of focus are around repositioning and restructuring existing operating structures, strategic disposals, and debt advisory.

What regions do you anticipate will bounce back sooner?

Markets and hotels are unlikely to recover in a uniform manner and the speed of recovery will be influenced by many factors, including location, business mix & segmentation, condition, technological innovation, management, market position and supply pipeline.

Regions with strong domestic demand particularly leisure and major drive to markets will perform best. The UK could lead recovery given immunisation progress.

Has the Covid-19 crisis had an impact on the segments or asset classes your company in looking to expand into?

With many clients seeking to analyse hotel performance in more detail and new investors entering the market we see more opportunity to help our clients better understand the market and hotel operations at a more granular level. We are strengthening our successful advisory services offer, deepening our transactional expertise and connecting our clients with other parts of CBRE, such as our Property Management, ESG and our Digital Solutions teams.

The leisure segment is hailed to be driving hospitality recovery. What are the keys to succeed in this market?

Guests are increasingly looking for a more personalised experience and take many of the older ‘USPs’ bed types, power showers etc. for granted such have the improvements in room quality been over the last five years. The ability to offer an authentic local experience, have more innovative food and beverage offerings, higher quality fitness and wellness facilities and curation and an effective digital platform are all key. Consumers now expect a greater commitment to environmental considerations such as reducing carbon footprint, water conservation measures and sourcing of local products during construction and operations.

How important are ESG initiatives to CBRE?

As part of the world’s largest commercial real estate services company, CBRE UK and Ireland is committed to fulfilling its duty to be a responsible business. Collectively we will operate, both internally and externally, in ways that do good for our people, the communities of which we are a part of and our environment.

CBRE’s commitment to protecting and promoting the environment lies within its Environment, Social, Governance ESG strategy which consists of 3 pillars: Environment, Culture and Communities. The strategy is underpinned by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and our mission is to be a responsible occupier and custodian of the buildings we occupy and to minimise and manage our environmental impacts to create net positive benefits across all of our UK corporate offices and communities within which we operate. CBRE realises the need for a whole sector approach in order to achieve radical change at pace and will therefore strive to be a positive advocate, enabler and influencer within the built environment sector.

Within our own operations we are working to continually manage and drive down energy, water and waste and we have committed to the Science-Based Target initiative. The issues of embodied and life-cycle carbon, biodiversity net gain and climate risk are rising up our internal agenda and this year have undertaken an assessment into the physical and transitional risks climate change will pose to our built assets within the UK. Further details on our strategy and KPI’s can be found here.

You and you team will be at the International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF) in September. What do you expect will be the major points of discussion this year?

Trading recovery, deal flow, financing, evolving operating structures - will Covid-19 impact how hotels operate in future including operating agreements?  Sector commitment to ESG.

We are looking forward to the opportunity to connect with key clients in person and meet new clients, obtain information from primary sources, and learn about innovation post Covid-19.

CBRE Hotels is a Patron Sponsor of the International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF), taking place in Berlin, Germany on 1-2 September 2021.