Greenberg Traurig co-chair reflects on top trends

Nelson F. Migdal, a shareholder and co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s hospitality practice based in the firm's Washington, DC. office, will join the line-up of speakers participating in the Israel Hotel Investment Summit on Nov. 20 and 21, presented by Questex, parent company of Hotel Management Magazine.

At the summit, Migdal will participate in the International Operators’ Panel: “What can international brands bring to Israel's hotel market?” on Nov. 21 at 2:00 p.m., discussing the benefits of international brands for Israel's hotel market and how their expertise can complement local knowledge.

At Greenberg Traurig, Migdal focuses his practice on hotel acquisitions, operations, development and finance, large mixed-use projects, hotel management agreements, licensing agreements and commercial real estate acquisition and sale. 

In advance of the event, Nelson shared his thoughts on consolidation, soft branding and the buoyancy of the Israeli hotel market. 

As we approach the end of 2019, what are your observations on the hospitality industry during the course of the year? 

Consolidation: The pace of mergers and acquisitions has continued and consolidation in the world of branded hotel operating companies and even third-party management companies will present both challenges and opportunities. Some recent examples include Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood; the merger of Aimbridge Hospitality and Interstate Hotels & Resorts; Wyndham’s acquisition of La Quinta Holdings; InterContinental’s acquisition of Regency Hotels & Resorts and then Six Senses Hotels & Resorts; Accor’s acquisition of Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, SBE and 21c Museum Hotels; Fattal Hotels acquisition of Apollo Hotels; Jing Jiang’s acquisition of Radisson Holdings and Hyatt’s acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality and Miraval Group. 

Franchising and Collections: Hotel owners now have the potential to retain management of the hotel either directly or through a third-party management company and yet reap the benefit of association with a major brand through use of a “soft brand” or collection, which is essentially a franchise agreement. Marriott’s Luxury Collection and Autograph Collection now share the market with Hilton’s Curio Collection and Tapestry Collection, Hyatt’s Unbound Collection and other collections across the industry segments including Red Roof, Best Western and Choice Hotels. 

Labor: The industry needs to attract, train and retain qualified people. In many markets hotel jobs remain unfilled putting stress on the entire industry and the need to deliver services to hotel patrons and guests. 

Looking at Israel specifically, what are some of the investment trends in the region? Are you seeing any new owners emerging? 

2018 and 2019 were both record years according to the data compiled by HVS, one of the supporters of the conference. Continuing government initiatives will draw investment to the entire country, not just Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. 

Israeli-based hoteliers will continue to see global players such as Marriott, Six Senses, Nobu, Setai and Accor competing for opportunities and guests. 

Investors based outside of Israel welcome the opportunity to invest in Israeli projects, such as the Jaffa Hotel and its New York-based ownership. 

What is the professional value of attending events like the forthcoming Israel Hotel Investment Summit (IHIS) in November? 

For Greenberg Traurig and me personally, the Israel hospitality marketplace fits perfectly with our global hospitality practice group and many decades of association with the hospitality industry. With the consolidation and expansion of the major international brands, such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Four Seasons, Wyndham, Mandarin Oriental, Montage, Aman, Auberge and Nihi, we have found that there is a place in many deals for an international law firm that has already negotiated with the brands and that has years of personal relationships and industry knowledge to draw from. 

Significant and deep industry knowledge is an added value when negotiating the owner/manager relationship in an industry that is unique and behaves very differently from the office, retail or residential models. The ability to work collaboratively with an owner’s existing team has been proven to be beneficial to the parties and achieving the mutual goals of the parties. The IHIS event allows us to expand and deepen those important relationships and opportunities.  

Nelson will be attending the Israel Hotel Investment Summit at the Hilton Tel Aviv on Nov. 20 and 21. He will be speaking on the International Operators’ Panel: “What can international brands bring to Israel's hotel market?” on Nov. 21 November at 2:00 p.m.