The hotel sector has roared out of the gate with an enthusiastic start to the year, with rates increasing and travel flourishing, despite global airlift not yet returning to normal. There were signs that inflation was receding in many parts of the world, taking some pressure off leisure and business travellers alike.

We are seeing development pipelines grow, with a focus on our area – the luxury segment. There is much to be inspired by as the large global operators compete to deliver exceptional experiences, embracing as they do the latest in technological advances.

While there has not been the rush to deals that many had expected, there have been some high profile sales, such as The Westin Paris – Vendôme, for a reported €650m. With plenty of money lining up for quality assets, we expect to see more such trophy properties change hands this year.

We are continuing to expand and have appointed Thuy Tran as Hotel Asset Manager. The Glion graduate had more than ten years of hospitality industry experience and joined us following her last position as Director of Hotels and Resorts Operations at NovaGroup.

Thuy said: “I am thrilled to have joined GAS and have the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals while gaining insightful industry knowledge in different parts of the world.

There is something truly special about the hotel asset manager’s job because you have the chance to create exceptional value from behind the scenes. The hotel sector is a fascinating industry for its complexity and dynamic nature and I am looking forward to the opportunity to be involved in a wide range of functions and principles, including sales and marketing, project development and finance.”

Global Asset Solutions on the road

We will be attending IHIF in Berlin in May, with CEO Alex Sogno speaking on the panel: ‘Right Person, Right Time, Right Product: Strategies for alignment’, on 16 May at 3.15pm.

The rest of the team will also be attending. Get in touch if you’d like to meet up:

How the asset manager has moved from elective to essential

Our CEO Alex Sogno wrote in HOTELS about the increasing need for operational asset managers to provide wealth asset management to their hotel owning clients.

He said: “It is said that to truly learn a foreign language, one must leave the classroom and immerse themselves in that language day to day, preferably in a country where it is spoken. Language is not just vocabulary, it is the interpretation that comes from also understanding culture, feel and colloquial nuance. The same can be said of many professions, employing a specialist language that can sometimes feel designed to keep the outsider at bay.

“Hotels are no different. Only when one strays into the more theoretical end of physics does the workplace become more fraught with the potential for confusion. Whole conversations can be undertaken that would be incomprehensible to anyone with less than a decade of hotel experience, not forgetting the importance of throwing in a healthy dose of travel.

“But rather than just speaking louder, better to find an experienced translator.”

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GAS asset manages Four Seasons Canalejas, Madrid

GAS is thrilled to be working with Four Seasons Canalejas, Madrid.

The recently-restored property in the former headquarters of La Equitativa insurance company features 200 rooms include 39 suites. The design is contemporary, overlaid with the depth of history.

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Why Accor’s Split Is an Example the Rest of the Hotel Industry Should Follow

Alex also wrote in Hotel News Now about how Accor recently announced an organisational restructure – splitting economy, midscale and premium brands and its luxury and lifestyle brands – and how that may well be the trend many others will follow.

He said: “Accor’s decision to split its economy, midscale and premium brands and its luxury and lifestyle brands into two divisions, which officially began on Jan. 1, is set to be the story of the year.

The former division will be led by Jean-Jacques Morin, the chief financial officer and deputy CEO. Sebastien Bazin, Accor’s chairman and CEO, will lead the latter.

“The global branded operators have been swivelling their focus to luxury for some time, but the French company is taking the strategy one stage further.

“‘Changing our organisational structure is a natural step in the transformation initiated several years ago, which turned Accor into an asset-light group that is more agile and efficient, with a global profile and which has become a key player in luxury and lifestyle.

“‘By evolving from a generalist to a multi-specialist model, our aim is to improve further Accor’s appeal in the eyes of owners, partners and investors. We capitalise on our leadership positions to accelerate our development, better focus talents and expertise and improve our performance,’ Bazin said.

“I couldn’t agree more.”

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Will Traditional Hotel Operators Ditch Beds For Data Banks?

Alex joined Alex Schneider, president of the global hotel division of Nikki Beach, in Hotel News Now to discuss how a transition from hotel firm to tech platform would likely raise stock values and returns.

They said: “The hotel sector, until the past few decades, had been largely unchanged for hundreds, if not thousands of years. But the growth of models that have allowed operations to be split away from ownership has caused a shift in the industry that is still playing out.

“In the branded end of the market, if you are one of the massive listed global operators, there is only one message your shareholders are delivering at the moment: growth, growth, growth. And not growth at any cost, growth at the least cost — and effort — possible.

“We are currently seeing an evolution towards franchising, spreading out from the U.S. and feeding pipelines with plenty of flags over doors and plenty of profiles for the big brands. For hotel companies, there is less revenue than with a management contract but also less complex involvement. You turn on the neon sign, ensure the brand bible is handed over and then move on to the next property.

“The franchise model allows hotel companies to grow faster; however, the returns are not as high as the management fees model. This has a direct impact on the valuation of these companies.”

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The sector in numbers

The sector in numbers

High end, high hopes

Size and luxury were the watchwords at the most-recent results season, with the analysts cheered by the sight of strong luxury pipelines and the healthy fees that they hoped would come along with them once the construction crews had left and the guests started to pour in.

Marriott CEO Tony Capuano had something for shareholders to love when heannounced on Valentine’s Day that the group was open to deploying key money to help drive luxury growth and that it was launching Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy, a new serviced apartment brand in the upper-upscale and luxury segments.

Accor chair & CEO Sébastien Bazin laid it out when he told the assembled on the group’s call: “Why are we going fast in luxury & lifestyle? Because they contribute €4,000 fees per room compared to €800 fees per room for an Ibis.”

Despite the luxury jamboree, there was an appreciation that not all guests were looking to spend big on a stay. Hilton launched Spark, with an eye to attracting younger guests who might then spend more when they were older and Marriott remained happy with City Express, the mid-level brand that it bought in Autumn last year.

But it was Hyatt, which, as one can see from its share price, was bubbling over with joy, hailing the success of its recent acquisitions and its enthusiasm for personalised service.

Expect to hear more about personalised service over the rest of the year, as the sudden attention on ChatGPT alerts the sector to the potential of technology to delivering that luxury it craves.

Sign up for our asset management course

Global Asset Solutions has launched an online training course with external accreditation which will support the growing demand for asset management.

The course will target aspiring asset managers who are already working elsewhere in the sector, as well as students and new entrants.

Alex Sogno, CEO, Global Asset Solutions, said: “Asset management has been growing in recent years, with detailed operational knowledge much sought after as the search for profit becomes ever-more challenging.

“Asset management at its best sees on-the-ground knowledge combined with experience to ensure owner, brand and all stakeholders are aligned and function at their best. This course teaches the skills required to build the hotels’ value for the owner, helping you to understand the real estate side of hotels as well as the capital issues.”