IHIF: JLL’s Philip Ward says hotels, OTAs and Airbnb are blurring together

BERLIN, Germany — At the tail end of the IHIF 2017 event in Berlin, Philip Ward, CEO hotels and hospitality for financial and professional services firm JLL, met with Questex editor-in-chief David Eisen to discuss Aisa's impact on EMEA investment, Brexit uncertainties and purpose of Airbnb.

Video of the interview can be found below, along with highlights from the conversation.

1. Mainland China is driving EMEA investment

Ward pointed out that last year, for the first time ever, outbound capital from mainland China overtook that of the Middle East, and has grown 80 percent from 2012 to 2016 with no sign of stopping. The Middle East region has struggled in recent years against falling oil prices, which are slowly on the rebound, but even without China investments from Asia in EMEA seem plentiful. “We are selling assets to Singaporean and Taiwanese investors, and all those are very keen, because of the yield, to come to Europe,” Ward said.

2. Terror fears are slowly fading

Brussels and Turkey are still in the rebuilding stages following their respective terror attacks, but Ward said these markets saw a 3-percent rise in tourism arrivals last year and recent forecasts from the World Travel and Tourism Council show an estimated 4-percent increase in arrival per year for the next 10 years. Ward said investment in these regions essentially dried up following the attacks, but he expects more product to come online throughout 2017 and 2018.

3. Spain is a safe bet

Ward said Spain benefitted not only from a lack of terrorism, but also a relatively high tourism growth rate at 3 percent per year. “Not only are we seeing an appetite from investors for the resort market, but because the domestic market is also improving we are seeing the city market going up,” Ward said.

4. Airbnb’s influence is everywhere

Home-sharing giant Airbnb is changing the way hotels think about all aspects of investment operations, and though they are certainly a disruptor Ward isn’t sure it’s a bad thing. He is particularly interested in how the company is forcing hotels to get creative in the mobile space, and said the company’s presence in the EMEA region is targeted at the lower end of the market. “We will see more of a merging, a coming together, more of a blurring of the lines than a displacement,” Ward said. 

5. Keep one eye on international politics

With a number of international elections on the horizon for 2017, and the region still reeling from the uncertainty of the Brexit, Ward said that as long as those election results don’t produce “disasters” he expects to see a surge of investment throughout the year. “Remember, the Eurozone grew faster last year than the U.S., so the market is showing staying power,” he said.”

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