Expo Real ended October 9, 2019. Although there are still some smaller conferences scheduled later this year, it was an excellent 'wrap-up' session for many of the investors, developers, and operators present and active in the European hospitality space.
Most industry executives recognised that a cooling down of the market is inevitable. Yet, amidst a search of a 'safe haven' - fuelled to some extent by perceived uncertainty created by, for example, political inertia and/or drastic changed in policy making in certain parts of the world - Central Europe and, in particular, Germany are continuing to thrive. Here, the strong investor appetite coupled with the favourable interest rates have propped-up prices and somewhat 'masked' the turbulent times at hand. So, despite executives on the buy-side complaining about prices being too high to allow for the right returns, and irrespective of the economic and political 'clouds', the lodging sector appears to retain its optimism - at least for now.
Last year's Expo Real was a lot about brands - brand acquisitions, new brand developments, as well as soft brands being launched by many of the global players. Which ones were the topics being picked up on the conference floor during the panel discussions and at the evening receptions during the 2019 event?
Concluding, and despite certain signs of recession and a somewhat cautious attitude towards the next 12 to 18 months, industry players at Expo Real were convinced that there is still a lot of value to be generated. What remains to be seen, though, is where this leaves the industry from a talent point of view. At present, Central Europe and in particular Germany remains a 'candidate's market'. Owners, developers and operators in the hospitality industry are already trying to woo a comparatively small talent pool - now, they are facing increasing competition from domestic and international players as well as new market entrants focusing on, historically, niche sectors such as serviced apartments and student housing. We have thus seen hospitality employers on the investor and operator side having to be more flexible as it relates to securing their next leaders - regarding desired backgrounds and experience levels but also as it relates to specific sector expertise. A broader definition of what constitutes 'hospitality expertise' has helped some players on the lodging side to, for example, beef-up their teams with executives coming from the retail or system chain restaurant sector. Interestingly enough, this has also helped to bring in some fresh perspectives as it relates to developing 'better' / more efficient real estate and / or facility management best practices and green building credentials. Gone are also the days where relocating executives across boarders, continents or cities was seen as a 'last resort' to fill leadership vacancies… Overwhelmingly, though, companies have had to up their game as it relates to their remuneration best practices in order to secure the right talent. Bonus-programs across the board have been reviewed during the first part of 2019. Remarkably, though, the up-and-coming brands and start-ups are continuing to buck the trend and are able to attract talent at a perceived 'discount' to the rest of the market.
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AETHOS Consulting Group
2945 Jefferson Street
Boulder, CO 80304
Phone: +1 (718) 618-4376
Thomas Mielke is a founding member of AETHOS Consulting Group, and has a track record in successfully placing senior executives at leading hospitality companies across the EMEA region. He is an AESC certified consultant and is working together with travel wholesalers, real estate developments firms, investment companies and sovereign wealth funds as well as leading restaurant brands in identifying key talent and has joined forces with clients in establishing compensation schemes as well as organizational structures and workflows. Acting as a trusted advisor, he supports the process of identifying, developing and/or enhancing those values and best practices that define and foster a corporate culture and help create a core competency centered around people. He is passionate about organizational advisory, learning and development and has authored a number of articles on leadership, corporate governance, emotional intelligence and managerial core competencies that predict job performance within the hospitality industry. Thomas began his career within human resources and organizational advisory with HVS Executive Search and is a graduate of Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, holding a BSc. in International Hospitality Management.
Phone: +44 20 7065 1392