The fate of brands is in consumer hands

“The future of brands will be decided by consumers,” Dimitris Manikis, president EMEA, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, told delegates at the IHIF EMEA 2024 on Tuesday.

Manikis was speaking on a panel of owners, operators and brands discussing the  implementation of novel concepts to boost returns from hospitality real estate, moderated by David Kellett, managing director, Invesco Real Estate. The Wyndham executive told his peers: “We have 25 brands, 20 of which we acquired. But consumers will decide which brands make sense.” He referenced the added challenge of fashion, retail and car brands moving into the hospitality space, from Armani to Mercedes, and asked “where do you stop? Consumers will dictate that.”

Co-panellist Jean-Jacques Morin, group deputy CEO of Accor, who is also CEO of the firm’s premium midscale & economy division, said that Accor had been “ahead of the curve” in instigating brands. “We have 46 brands, more than anyone in the industry,” he said, “but that has been our strategy for some time—we haven’t needed to add new brands for three years.” He credited “the lifestyle evolution” with driving brand creation. “Everyone wants something different, something ‘Instagrammable’, that didn’t exist before, and you can’t fit that in a limited number of brands.”

For global hospitality management company Aimbridge Hospitality, brands are the firm’s bread and butter, said David Anderson, divisional president EMEA. “We globally manage 81 brands, and have to make sure that each team is aligned on aspects such as ESG,” he said. “But when it comes to making recommendations, we bring all the brands to the table to see which fits best in a particular market, while we remain agnostic.”

Speaking on behalf of Northern European hotel investor and owner Pandox, Jacob Rasin, SVP Transactions, gave the landlord perspective on brands. “I do think that size works, but you have to do your homework prior to signing a franchise agreement,” he said, noting that he didn’t really want to be a “guinea pig” on brands which might be doomed to fail, such as those with a low penetration in a particular market.

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