News - Sights and scenes from IHIF 2013, Berlin
On the 4th- 6th March 2013, myself, Marco Nijhof, Chris Boulton and Angela Biddle set up camp at IHIF, Berlin’s International Hotel Investment Forum, acting as sponsors to this prestigious and exciting event.
The driving purpose of sponsoring IHIF was to launch our new hotel management service, YOO Hotels, headed up by industry expert Marco Nijhof. Under the YOO Hotels name, we were looking forward to sharing our two separate brands, YOO 2 and YOO Collection. IHIF presents a great platform for this, attracting over 1700 of the world's global and regional hospitality leaders from all regions and is now considered to be the largest gathering of senior-level global hospitality industry leaders in Europe.
Angela and myself landed in Berlin on the Sunday prior, to help ensure that the stand set up and prep all went smoothly. This year, our creative stand design literally lit up the conference, covering the back wall with glowing bulbs cleverly concealed as door knobs on which we hung some cheeky and engaging quotes to bring some character and humour to the otherwise corporate style of the event. On reflection, we feel this playful approach worked perfectly to represent our two design lead hotel brands, and certainly caught the eye of passers-by.
Over all, we had an excellent three days in Berlin. Marco's unrivalled reputation in the industry meant he was booked back to back with meetings, whilst Angela and I put our best foot forward to engage with the passing crowd, receiving a number of enquiries into our brand, with a constant flow of people exchanging details, making new contacts and generally spreading the word. A highlight was watching Chris take centre stage as he was invited to discuss 'Serviced apartments: Is this the next big niche hospitality segment?’ The talk attracted a strong crowd, and there was some interesting discussion, among panel members and the audience.
Whilst Marco was busy working his Dutch magic, networking at record speed and ensuring we got the most out of our time there, I had chance to sit in on a selection of other informative talks, such as 'Around the World in 40 Minutes - A Look at Trends' and 'Investment and Emerging Markets'. Whilst Angela gave a glowing review of ‘The Wake up Call, Innovate or Be Damned’ tapping into her designer background.
IHIF was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends in the business, as well as making some valuable new contacts. Amongst all the networking, the event also delivered pushed home the importance of the industry speaking with a single voice, highlighting the interconnectivity of all sectors of travel and tourism and their inter-dependence. There was an overall air of positivity, with the final day of the conference opening to news that the international stock markets were returning to levels not seen since before the global financial crisis. Many of the talks provided nuggets of advice on how to overcome the constraints of growth and rise to the top of an ever challenging, changing and competitive market. This, as with all business sectors, requires the ability to listen, adapt and react to market opportunities.
As my first time in Berlin, I left with a view it is a truly great city, with a busy, engaging atmosphere steeped with history. Angela and I got to enjoy some of the city's cultural highlights in our down time, such as walking along the Berlin wall, wondering around the zoo, and enjoying drinks with old friends at Soho House, as well as some other local gems, which included – dinner at Borchardt, and enjoying a glass of wine at the just opened, stunning Das Stue Hotel. I left with a feeling that there was much more to discover, and I’m already looking forward to my next visit!