UK Hotel Investment Trends – Summer Update

40% increase on previous year so far, but what trends are emerging? 

Although international travel restrictions have eased, disruptions in travel, as airlines and airports struggle to scale their operations back to pre-pandemic levels, has made many holiday makers reconsider their travel plans this summer. The Great British Staycation trend looks set to continue for another bumper year. This strong domestic performance is driving increased investment in well located, efficiently run hotel business which are often seen as a less volatile option than real-estate, with year round returns on the right properties. 

According to Knight Frank, this increased investment has already seen a 40% increase on 2021 in the first four months of 2022 and with trends continuing to point in the same direction, this is likely to continue. Portfolio transactions have seen the biggest increases in this period with some highlights including the regional sales of The Pig Hotel Group and The Inn Collection.  London has seen a similar level of  the sales in the same period with the purchases of Point A Hotel and the Hilton London Olympia. 

While Investment in regional and London hotels has been relatively evenly distributed in 2022, this has not been the case in recent years. 2021 saw more that 60% of all investment took place in regional parts of the UK with Edinburgh being the highest performing city outside of London. 

Scotland
Last year, Edinburgh took 15% or all regional hotel investment capital excluding London. Three transactions in particular accounted for nearly half of this as Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh, Adagio Aparthotel Edinburgh and Macdonald Holyrood Edinburgh all changed hands. But what effect will the recent announcement from the governing  party in Scotland, the SNP, that they will push to hold a second independence referendum in October 2023?  

In 2014, when polls were warning of a possible Yes vote prior to the first Independence Referendum,  investment in the UK shrank as banks warned of a Sterling collapse. The field of play is certainly very different now with the UK having left Europe, the world recovering after a pandemic and inflation at a 30 year high but we may still be able to learn from these trends. The five years after Indyref1 saw a huge increase in international investment in Scotland as UK investors hesitated to immediately step back into the region.  

Commercial Mindset
The announcement in June that Accor is entering exclusive negotiations to sell 10.8% stake in Ennismore for £159m to a Qatari group proves that innovative, commercially minded lifestyle brands are proving to be very attractive to international investors. The ability for brands to adapt to, and in many ways drive the change in, an ever evolving and competitive market raises the interest of prospective investors. This commercial mindset sees opportunities where others see obstacles and this is always very attractive.  

Serviced Apartments
Another area that has raised the interest of potential investors are Aparthotels and serviced apartments. As mentioned earlier, real estate values can fluctuate wildly in uncertain time. While well run hotels can offer a much more consistent return than real estate, Aparthotels offered much more operational resilience during the pandemic and the and have the ability to switch to mid and long term let more easily. According to Savills, the supply of serviced apartment stock across Europe is set to accelerate, with supply forecast to expand by 21.2% over the next three years. London and Munich are seeing the highest levels of demand, but the regional UK cities Manchester and Belfast are both sitting at number 5 and 10 in Savills’ outlook. In a  market  still dominated by a small number of brands including Staycity and Adagio Apartments there is a huge opportunity for new and existing operators to leverage private equity, expand and grow. 

HPG Advisory Services is proud to have helped place some of the industry’s most innovative and commercially minded executives and operators. If you’re looking to build, strengthen or diversify a role, a team or your entire business, please contact us today.  

Dan Akhtar, Managing Director of HPG Advisory Services +44 20 8600 1166 / +44 7808 157796 / dan@hpgsearch.com 

How can Culture help Win the War for Talent?

Last June, we published an article that examined “Where are all the candidates?”.  

 As we reflect, a year on, we take a look at what has changed: 

  • Have employers adapted their recruitment strategies?  
  • Has the hospitality industry adapted to meet employee or candidate expectations?  
  • What role does company culture play in the War for Talent? 

What happened? 

The Big Quit and The Great Resignation are just two of the phrases that appeared in the last couple of years. The pandemic precipitated employees around the world to collectively reset and reassess both their professional and personal goals and priorities. This exacerbated the normal cycle of employee turnover and concentrated the timeline to a specific shortened period.  

This turnover sparked a real battle to attract and retain employees, not just between competing businesses, but across industries, where some were far more willing to recruit the right personality with experience from a different industry.  

Hospitality employees were particularly badly hit as many businesses were forced to close multiple times, forcing businesses to make positions redundant. Many of these employees applied for roles in different industries and chose to stay there rather than return to hospitality. In addition, many school leavers, who may have applied for their first jobs in bars, restaurants and hotels found jobs unavailable as businesses had closed, or were operating with a reduced workforce.  Again, many  chose an alternative option rather than waiting it out. 

What is the situation now? 

The UK’s Office of National Statistics has recently reported that for the first time since records began, job vacancies have outstripped unemployment. However, wages have decreased in real terms against inflation, which continues to rise and remains a threat to the cost of living and doing business. Many hospitality businesses are struggling to attract employees as confidence in the hospitality sector has been rattled by events of the last few years. 

How has the hospitality industry reacted? 

“Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”. It’s a memorable quote often attributed to Peter Drucker, but is particularly relevant now.  

We have found that the businesses that have focussed on their company culture and engaged with employees throughout the pandemic were able to recover much better. As demand to travel started to increase as restrictions eased, they were the ones best placed to scale back up with an existing workforce, but also able to attract talent by offering the stability that comes from a happy workforce that feels like they belong and are able to develop and achieve their goals.  

In a recent interview with HPG Advisory Services, David Anderson, CEO of Interstate Hotels and Resorts commented “I believe in building a strong culture of collaboration – two-way communication is key as is everyone pulling in the same direction. Investing in our staff so they can develop their careers is really important to me, as is making sure we recognise and reward their effort and achievement by celebrating successes across the team.“ 

Many hospitality businesses fundamentally changed the way they work to adapt to the situation and put their employees first. AirBnB made the huge decision to make their pandemic-era changes to the normal office schedule permanent, allowing employees to work remotely. This was based on seeing how productive their team had been during lockdown and their willingness to allow the needs of their employees to influence their strategy. 

The Future 

Many employers have already increased wages by adopting the national living wage, and adding financial benefits will always help attract the best talent. However, cultures that embrace diversity, equality and inclusion, while offering a better work life balance and aligned values have become more important than monetary reward alone.  

The recruitment process is now very transparent as candidates have access to so much information on businesses, through their website, social media channels and review sites. By the time it comes to an interview, many candidates will be asking probing questions to ensure that everything is aligned and may prioritise other opportunities if this is not the case.  

Hospitality People Group can support both the recruitment and retention strategies for employers. Attracting the right people to a business demands looking at everything that communicates the company culture, and as an external resource, we can do the heavy lifting.  We look at all aspects of an available position to ensure we match the perfect candidate with the perfect employer. This gives the candidate the information they need to commit and adapt quickly to a new role and saves the employer time and resources so that they can focus on their day to day operations. If you would like to chat about your recruitment strategy, please contact us on +44 20 8600 1166.  

 

 

Hospitality Investment Trends

Last year, HPG Advisory Services looked at the Global Hotel Investment Landscape as international travel was beginning to re-emerge after Covid-19. We explored some of the key considerations for investors and owners and looked at which geographic regions and styles of properties were most likely to see an immediate uplift post-pandemic.  

Since then, consumer confidence towards travel has increased, and as restrictions are being lifted in numerous countries, and many hospitality businesses are reporting a promising return to growth.  

Here, we review the emerging trends and what opportunities the hospitality sector presents in the future. Whilst we’ve taken various insights into consideration, we must acknowledge the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine which continues to threaten stability throughout Europe and events there could quickly shift any current trends in unpredictable directions. 

What happened in 2021? 

Firstly, let’s recap on some of the hotel investment highlights from 2021. The Caterer has reported that hotel investment in the UK grew by 84% on 2020 levels and at £4.14 billion, was just shy of the 15-year average. Private equity was particularly interested in regional hotel investment which was particularly buoyant, and it was clear that international investors still see great value in the UK market with investments relatively split between investment from within and from outside the UK. 

The hotel sector has had a resilient year with strong momentum in the final quarter showcasing the appetite for UK hotel assets. While there remains operational challenges in the short-term, investors continue to be positive on the long-term outlook of the sector and we anticipate another strong year in 2022 for the UK hotel investment market.” – Tim Stoyle, Head of UK Hotels at Savills. 

Investor trust also returned to Spain as the €3.19 billion (as noted by Christie & Co.) where investments exceeded pre-pandemic figures. 2020 had seen a strong pull away from urban hotel investment, a trend reinforced by one of HPG’s clients that completed two transactions in the Iberian Peninsula during the pandemic. 

Continuing Trends into 2022 

Recruitment and Retention   

One of the biggest challenges in hospitality, since the start of the pandemic and closure of so many businesses, has been recruiting and retaining employees. Furlough, redundancies and the continuing effects of Brexit forced many front-line employees to either join new industries or return to their home countries, precipitating a perfect storm for the decline in available talent in the hospitality industry.  

As with every challenge, there is an opportunity and any hospitality organisation that can make their business more attractive in what is currently a candidate-driven marketplace will have a huge advantage. Working from home, digital nomads, flexible working and reimagined office space all became the norm during the pandemic. New working trends are condensing the space between business and leisure and the portmanteau Bleisure has re-emerged.  

Hospitality, especially at the luxury end, has always given employees an insight into a luxury lifestyle and the opportunity to travel or live abroad. Company benefits that replicate this can still be very appealing to potential candidates while also giving them a valuable insight into customer expectations and a road to building empathy and genuine connections with the guests they take care of.  

Hospitality’s Digital Transformation 

Investors will be keeping a keen eye on the increased digital transformation of hospitality service and how they may be able to leverage these digital innovations to drive customer experiences, revenues and return on investment.  

The pandemic was a catalyst for the hospitality industry to accelerate processes for everything from contactless payments to online ordering and mobile hotel check-in. The expectations of digital-savvy customers are very high, but the concept of creating completely new digital experiences to complement the more traditional in-person experiences doesn’t seem quite as far away as it did two years ago. While taking on too much could harm the existing customer experience, successfully integrating innovative, creative and exciting digital experiences could be very tempting to investors, eager to catch the next big wave of this transformation. 

ESG and Property Investment 

We recently explored how the Environmental, Social and Governance strategy of businesses is a key consideration for potential employees when choosing a new organisation to work for. Unsurprisingly, ESG is now playing a large part in how property investors are thinking about their investments. Since property is usually a longer-term investment, ensuring that all new buildings have sustainable credentials and retro-fitting existing buildings with environmentally friendly features will help future-proof their investment. 

ESG Investment Funds are also increasingly popular and have rewarded investors with solid returns over the last few years. Larger Hospitality chains, who form part of these funds are often keen to ensure that the hospitality operations are aligned to the expectations of these funds manager and investors. As a result, the role of Hotel Asset Management has become increasingly popular as owners look to listen to the market in order to protect their assets and drive growth.  

General Investor Trends 

The recent 2022 Knight Frank Wealth Report looked at investment trends for popular luxury items such as art, whisky, classic cars, diamonds, wine and watches. While these investors had different experiences through the pandemic, they all seem to be predicting some sort of future that embraces digital transformations with Cryptocurrency, NFTs and the Metaverse featuring heavily. Many investors appear to be dipping their toes into this area so as to not be left behind, but the majority seem to have little understanding of how this digital future might actually play out. In many ways, the future is unwritten and it will be the innovators that best capture their moment that will ultimately succeed.  

 

HPG Advisory Services have exceptional industry relationships and proven successes with operators, developers and investors in the hotel, and hospitality sectors across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Our services include executive search, human capital architecture, talent management consultancy, behavioural profiling and a range of human capital services tailored to meet the specific challenges of each of our clients.  

We are proud to have delivered some of the industry’s most talented leaders into key appointments. If you’re looking to build, strengthen or diversify a role, a team or your entire business, please contact us today.  

Dan Akhtar, Managing Director of HPG Advisory Services +44 20 8600 1166 / +44 7808 157796 / dan@hpgsearch.com 

Financial Leadership: Outsourcing vs Inhouse 

As we reflect on the past two years, certain trends seem to have become accelerated in the Covid-19 era. A combination of cost control, flexible working conditions and demand for expertise has seen our requests for short-term or project-based contracts surge. Here we discuss the conditions that have driven this trend, compare the benefits to inhouse or outsourced/contract resources and look ahead to ask if this will be a short-lived or a more permanent trend. 

Outsourcing vs Inhouse
For the purposes of this article, we are defining outsourcing as engaging the help of a 3rd party organisation or an individual to complete specific tasks or project, usually for a set period of time. We will use the term Inhouse to mean full time employee of the business. 

Covid-19 Effect
The pandemic has opened up an array of opportunities for businesses to find the perfect candidates for positions in the current climate. From the moment employees were advised to work from home where possible, the world changed.  

Whilst many have returned to work, either on a full time or on a hybrid basis, businesses have recognised the benefits of employees working from home. Technologies such as fast and cheap domestic broadband, digital conferencing apps and relatively cheap hardware have shown that many employees can work very efficiently from home, reducing costs and increasing employee satisfaction. Many businesses have suffered financially over the past couple of years and cost control has become more important than ever to best manage the business.  

Finally, industries such as hospitality really struggled to retain their staff over the past two years.  These conditions have prompted many of the best employees to reconsider their careers and take sideways steps into other industries. This migration of expertise has left some gaps in the current inhouse workforce which could also affect the development of up-and-coming talent who would usually rely on the mentorship of those leaders. 

Costs
The process of hiring the perfect candidate for any role is never simple. Costs are often the first thing that prompts a business to consider searching for an experienced candidate on an interim consultative basis. The time involved in notice periods and the onboarding process for candidates can add costs, whereas a consultant, who can start quickly and hit the ground running, with a short-term flexible contract represents a fixed and predictable cost that the business can control easier than a full-time employee.  

Consultants, especially individuals, seem to be increasingly adopting the Netflix style subscription agreements over the 12 month retainer contracts that are offered by bigger 3rd party outsourced businesses. This strategy is based on the premise that businesses who are facing uncertain revenue streams will be looking to reduce risk, but if your services represent ongoing value, the agreement won’t be cancelled early. 

Flexibility
We have also found that more and more of the very best candidates are looking for hybrid working conditions as part of their contract negotiations. Of course, there are many businesses where this is simply not an option in the long term.  The opportunity lies in the fact that if you can offer flexible working to employees, then the barrier to recruiting an outsourced off-site consultant is removed.  

Expertise
We have seen a huge number of highly experienced candidates offering their services for short, interim period contracts. Many of these are high level directors who have retired from their full time, 9-5 roles but are keen to re-enter the market while taking control of their work life balance. Some of these are candidates, who have now experienced working from home and would like to continue to do so.  

With the right mix of outsourced experts and an eager, enthusiastic inhouse teams, businesses can use the opportunity to not only deliver a project, but for inhouse teams to work with and learn from experienced professionals and develop their own skills to eventually lead these kinds of projects inhouse. 

Trend or Here to Stay
So, is this current trend for outsourcing particular to this moment of recovery after the pandemic, or will it shape the future of people resourcing?  

Most businesses have now experimented with working from home over the past two years. This is something that may never have happened without the pandemic. Many of these companies will now know how feasible it is to have a hybrid workforce and will have a strong plan in place to manage it. 

As mentioned earlier in this article, companies whose work culture revolves around brainstorming ideas as a group, feeding off each other’s energy and sharing thoughts and ideas without the formality of a zoom invite may have found themselves really struggling with offices empty.  

The trend for employees to change jobs through their lives is likely to continue. We are increasingly less likely to work for one company for our entire work lives with a healthy full-salary pension. It seems far more likely that, if the opportunities are there, experienced industry professionals will take on interim consultancy-based projects later in their career, and businesses will have access to cost-friendly, flexible solutions that add a precious resource of expertise. 

For support with interim projects, your next career move or to improve your recruitment strategy, please contact using any of the below details:  

Office +44 20 8600 1166 

Chris Denison Smith +44 7775 711923 I Email chrisdenisonsmith@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Dan Akhtar +44 7808 157796 I Email dan@hpgsearch.com
Guy Lean +44 7813 009787 I Email guy@madisonmayfair.com

ESG and recruitment – the perfect match?

With COP26 having recently taken place in Glasgow, the topic of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is making its way up the list of priorities of many businesses.

Whilst there is no doubt that everyone has a personal responsibility to mitigate climate change, there is an added responsibility for companies to use their influence and in still a culture in their business to do the right thing. Whilst saving humanity as we know it is already reason enough, what other benefits could a comprehensive ESG strategy bring?

We are not experts in ESG, but we do specialise in people. And people, whether they are candidates or existing employees, recent graduates or experienced professionals, are demanding more transparency and a firm commitment to ESG from the companies that they work for or may choose to work for in the future.

“75% of people say they trust their employers to do what is right— more than government, media, or business. This trust is conditional on making things better, not just making better things.” (2019 Edelman Trust Barometer)

Whilst the world has changed dramatically since 2019, trust and integrity remain pillars of morality, especially in times of crisis. Candidates and employees may say that they trust their employers to do the right thing, but this is not uninformed, blind trust and it’s built up over time.

Millennials and Generation Z’s now make up about half of the global workforce and this is likely to grow to 75% by the end of the decade. These generations are looking to support and work for companies that share their values and inspire trust. These generations have grown up with technology at their fingerprints and will conduct comprehensive research of potential employers, stacking up the sustainability credentials and social values of the company they are interviewing. Yes, don’t forget that interviewees are also the interviewers.

So having a clear carbon reduction plan and clearly demonstrating your values are integral in attracting and retaining talent.

At HPG we work with both employers and the candidates to find perfect matches. We have long lasting relationships with our clients and candidates alike, supporting their recruitment efforts. More frequently, are seeing more and more candidates considering the ESG commitments of a business when considering their employment requirements.  We would encourage all businesses to ensure that their ESG-credentials are communicated, whether this is through social media, company website, job descriptions or all of the above.

If you would like to have a conversation about a people strategy for your business, or are looking to take the next step in your career, please let us know as we would love to have a chat.

Hospitality People Group office +44 20 8600 1166  Email dan@hpgsearch.com 

Success Stories – In conversation with David Anderson

David Anderson is an established hospitality leader who has recently been named as Interstate Hotels & Resorts’ new Executive Vice President – International.

Over the last 25 years, David, who is originally from St Andrews in Scotland, has travelled the world with various leadership positions for hotel groups. David has extensive experience in luxury resorts and midscale hotel portfolios throughout Europe, the UK, and the Indian Ocean. He has operated in both branded and independent properties and has managed companies within multiple structures including owned and operated, hotel management agreements and franchises.

His role at Interstate Hotels & Resorts follows his three years as CEO of Sun Resorts, where he was responsible for 3,500 employees on the idyllic island of Mauritius. His previous roles also include Managing Director of Dolce Hotels, Regional Vice President for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Vice President for the Louvre Hotel Group in Paris.

At Hospitality People Group, we have known David for many years, having helped place him in his roles at both Dolce Hotels and at Interstate Hotels & Resorts. We were delighted that he agreed to sit down with us for a short Q & A to share his thoughts on his experience of the hospitality industry.

What inspired you to follow a career in hospitality?
There is so much about hospitality that makes it an attractive and rewarding sector. I’ve always been passionate about people and fundamentally that’s what drove me to build my career in this industry.

As a French/English speaker, hospitality appealed because it offers rich opportunities to travel and I have been so lucky to enjoy many incredible cultural experiences through my work across different hotels globally. Indeed, it’s been a great way for me to see the world and gain extensive experiences from midscale hotel portfolios throughout Europe and the UK, to luxury resorts in the Indian Ocean.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting (or considering) their career in the industry?
I would encourage those considering coming into this industry to build their story from day one. Getting best in class experience working with world-class brands and hotels that enjoy an exceptional reputation will make you a very attractive proposition to a future employer. Being able to continually challenge yourself outside of your usual comfort zone is also important, as is having a willingness to move, both in terms of location and departments. Hospitality offers you the ability to develop your career in many areas including Operations, Sales, Finance, HR, IT or even hotel development.

It’s about building a narrative, getting technically competent and mastering each role you do, and as your career develops, you will develop natural leadership capabilities and you’ll find a wider variety of options opening up to you whether that be as a GM, regional manager, in a corporate function or even as CEO!

I look back on my history now and am grateful for every part of my career story, every experience has helped me to get where I am today.

The hospitality industry is on a huge recruitment drive at the moment and retention of employees has been a major challenge. What do you think are the most important things to do when leading and inspiring a team?
It’s true that, for a variety of reasons, recruitment is one of the biggest challenges our industry faces, that’s why I believe in the value of developing strong relationships with recruitment firms and head hunters. But I always go back to what inspired me to get into hospitality and it was people and that is still the same to this day – we just have to be more resourceful and creative in our approach.

I believe in building a strong culture of collaboration – two-way communication is key as is everyone pulling in the same direction. Investing in our staff so they can develop their careers within Interstate Hotel and Resorts is really important to me, as is making sure we recognise and reward their effort and achievement by celebrating successes across the team.

As part of this though, I want all our team members to feel empowered to make decisions so they can give our guests the most memorable and positive experiences when they visit our hotels. I hope this inspires them to do the very best they can, knowing they are supported and valued.

What are the biggest opportunities in the hospitality industry as it recovers from the pandemic?
Here at Interstate Hotels and Resorts, we are finishing 2021 in a strong position with a larger portfolio than ever before, new hotels opened and plenty more in the pipeline. This is really reassuring as it shows that the hospitality industry is finding its feet and, as a business, that we can quickly adapt to a changing world.

I expect that the need to continually identify change and respond accordingly will remain, and being as agile as possible is vital. It’s clear that the pandemic has put everything into question and allowed us to look at doing things differently which is an opportunity in itself. We all have a responsibility to continually improve processes and procedures, optimise technology and make the guest journey as streamlined as possible. These are key focuses for us in the year ahead.

For me personally, presenting the benefits of third-party management and getting even closer with our owners and our brands is also an area to develop. I want to demonstrate how that human touch and being there for one another and taking a thoughtful and caring approach to what we do is beneficial for all parties.

With COP26 having just taken place in Glasgow, in terms of sustainability, what do you think are the biggest opportunities for the Hospitality Industry?
Sustainability is a top priority for the entire world, not just the hospitality industry and one that we are taking very seriously. As a company, we must take ownership and responsibility for the measurement, delivery and communication of carbon targets across our business.

Working across different brands and with a variety of professional bodies gives us a unique perspective that benefits our teams and owners.  We need to continue to learn quickly, adopting changes to procedures and guest messaging to make an impact that aligns with a positive guest experience.

Taking ownership and responsibility and making employees feel proud that together we are tackling some of these issues in an accountable way gives me hope for the future.

The adoption of technology in hospitality has been forced to leap forward in the last two years. Moving forward, how do you think technology can be best utilised in the industry?
The rate of growth in this area over the last few years is incredible and it’s exciting to see what more is to come. We want to optimise technology wherever we can to provide our guests with a seamless experience and customer journey from beginning to end, whilst retaining the purest sense of the word ‘hospitality’.

Whether this is using concierge platforms to communicate with guests during their stay or looking at direct communication options with reception teams and the use of apps to provide more targeted guest communication and offers.

This is also a huge development area within the meetings and events space. Here, we are working with key strategic partners to support meeting planners with smart and effective distribution solutions, offering options to meet virtually where meeting in person isn’t possible, and working with owners to ensure they have the right tech to meet current event planners’ requirements.

Thank you to David for sharing his inspirational views on the hospitality industry. To discuss how we can support your businesses with our full suite of human capital services to help grow your hospitality business, please call HPG Advisory Services on +44 20 8600 1160 or email Dan Akhtar on dan@hpgsearch.com

 

Success Stories – In conversation with Guy Pasley-Tyler

Guy Pasley-Tyler has extensive experience in the international hospitality sector.  In his current role as Director, Portfolio & Fund Management with Archer Hotel Capital B.V., he is responsible for the review and development of market and fund strategy, the oversight of material value enhancement projects across the portfolio and the identification of opportunities to maximise fund-wide returns. Archer Hotel Capital BV enjoy a long-standing relationship with a number of international brands, including Marriott International, as well as developing iconic independent hotels, including The Dilly in London.

Guy was responsible for European Portfolio Strategy & Feasibility with Host Hotels, prior to creation of Archer Hotel Capital B.V which followed the buyout of Host’s position by Dutch pension fund APG and Singapore-based GIC Real Estate.

Before this, Guy worked for six years at AECOM Economics, where he was engaged in feasibility and advisory work on a wide variety of hotel and mixed-use real estate projects across the EMEA region. With diverse hospitality experience, Guy also has eight years’ experience in hotel management across operations and sales & marketing, an MBA from Hult International Business School in Cambridge, MA and is a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Madison Mayfair continues to have a long-standing relationship with Guy, having placed him in his role as Director – Feasibility & Investment Strategy at Host Hotels.

In conversation with Guy Pasley-Tyler

How did you get into Hospitality?   
My first exposure to hospitality was rather indirect in that during my school holidays I got myself a job working in the post room of the head office of InterContinental Hotels in Mayfair. I really enjoyed the experience but was also fascinated by the business, albeit with limited understanding, and that inspired me later to seek a management trainee role at The Milestone Hotel in Kensington, which helped me to get a better understanding of all aspects of the business. In different ways I have enjoyed every subsequent role I have taken on in the industry.

What are the most important aspects of portfolio management in hospitality and how has the role evolved over the years?    
At Archer, we aspire to be an active asset manager that seeks to improve and maximise every aspect of our investments – from the real estate itself to the concept to any associated contractual relationships (e.g. management agreements and leases). The key point for me is that the overall performance of the portfolio is the over-riding consideration in all our decision making, not necessarily the individual assets. This approach is made easier by having the same two aligned shareholders across all our investments so there is no conflict of interest. For asset managers handling multiple sources of capital across different investments there is a more careful line to tread in this regard.

What do you consider your biggest achievement so far and why?  
The set-up of Archer Hotel Capital over the past 3 years. My colleague Dominic Seyrling and I had a shared vision around Archer and we were lucky to have two trusting and supportive shareholders who have backed us along the way, as well as sharing their own insights and experience to the benefit of Archer. Clearly, the pandemic has been a dominant feature of the last 18 months but we have used the time to focus on long-term value creation across our portfolio which will hopefully stand us in good stead in the years to come.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career in the industry?   
Firstly, it’s a very varied business with lots of different roles available so don’t be afraid to test yourself in different areas to find out where you can excel. That rounded experience will stand you in good stead as your career develops.
Secondly, we are in a people business and forging strong relationships with mentors, colleagues and counterparties is essential to your development. It’s also important to treat people in the way in the manner you would want to be treated, not least because it’s a small industry and you never know who you might end working with in future!

What are the biggest opportunities in the hospitality industry as it recovers from the pandemic?
We are in the business of creating experiences and I think that is an aspect of people’s lives that they have greatly missed during the pandemic.  In all our concept development and renovation planning we are trying to better differentiate our hotels to make them distinct offerings in their individual markets – just because a hotel is corporate-focused it doesn’t have to be boring.

What would have been your Plan B?
A former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, described himself as a ‘cricket tragic’ and I fear that I may fit a similar description. Given that insufficient talent meant that a playing career was never even a remote possibility, my childhood dream was to be a commentator, ideally the BBC cricket correspondent, in charge of Test Match Special.

For support with your next career move or to enhance your recruitment strategy, please call Madison Mayfair on +44 20 8600 1180 or contact Guy Lean on mm@madisonmayfair.com now.

 

 

Success Stories – In conversation with Doris Bernard

With over 30 years of international experience in luxury hospitality financial leadership, Doris Bernard is an industry icon. Doris is now Vice President of Corporate Finance for Kempinski Hotels, a role she has held for the last seven years, placed by FM Recruitment. Responsible for the senior leadership throughout the global Corporate Finance structure of the Kempinski Group, Doris is integral to the brand’s continued success internationally. Kempinski currently manages 79 hotels in 34 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, China, South-East Asia and the Americas.

A strong communicator and team leader, Doris joined Kempinski from Rocco Forte Hotels, where she held the role of Group Financial Controller, overseeing 13 properties in Europe and the Middle East.

FM Recruitment continues to have a long-standing relationship with Doris, supporting her career trajectory, having placed her in several financial leadership roles with Rocco Forte Hotels, the Ascot Group, the Cliveden Group and the Conrad London. The collaboration with FM Recruitment equally extends to recruiting senior members of her team.

In conversation with Doris Bernard

How did you get into hospitality finance? 
First and foremost, there was hospitality – and ‘Grappa-Parfait’ – of which I made a lot when I started my hotel apprenticeship in 1986, with the first department to be covered being the kitchen (the hotel apologised and said, ‘Well, someone has to start in the kitchen…’). However, I loved it and did not want my time there to end. After the third extension, the ultimatum was given: Either I change the apprenticeship to become a chef or move on to the next department. I moved, and with my good instinct for numbers, logic, organisation and analysis, it was not a great surprise to fall for finance before long. And the rest, as they say, is history.

What are the most important aspects of financial roles in hospitality and how has the role evolved over the years?
The evolution is that there is definitely a much more prominent space for and faster pace of analysis. Today’s availability of data inevitably leads to more options of analysis, which in turn lead to more demands, from internal and external stakeholders. The trick is to investigate and understand what the real question is that we are trying to answer. Based on this, finance should be able to offer the most efficient and repeatable/robust solution. This integrated understanding of the business, paired with the understanding of the capabilities of finance systems, is one of the most important aspects of today’s finance roles. In short: Any financial analysis has to have a purpose and not be analysis for analysis’ sake.

What do you consider your biggest achievement so far and why?
Being still here, in finance, in hospitality. Temptations to move out of the industry existed, but the most compelling factor to stay has always been the amazing teams I have worked with. Leading a group of people who have a can-do attitude, a strong sense of commitment and a passion for hospitality and are fun to be with is one of the most rewarding and invigorating things in my career and, in fact, my daily work life. I hope that I am right in thinking that I have continuously contributed to making such teamwork happen.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career in the industry?
Enjoy and commit to getting stuck in, roll up your sleeves, be curious and stay humble. Never stop learning throughout and engage with the very diverse workforce that you are likely to encounter. It will lead to a strong network of industry professionals and friends, which, if cultivated with sincerity and authenticity, carries you throughout your career. It is one of the best schools of life.

What are the biggest opportunities in the hospitality industry as it recovers from the pandemic?
The opportunity for a fresh approach, in a free spirit, to what hospitality is about. Offers that are interest-led versus the traditional guest segmentation (I very much like the Kempinski ‘Travel Your Way’ initiative). Basic human needs for belonging and community could be answered by hospitality through integrating local culture. A stronger desire for quality time with family and friends might come to the fore against a background of threats like the pandemic or climate change. We may see, for example, conference rooms used as co-working spaces to enable business travellers to combine remote working and extended family time. The inventiveness and flexibility that we have seen in many hotels when the pandemic hit are inspiring. I equally hope that the heightened appreciation for travel after the confinement creates a new buzz all-round.

What would have been your Plan B?
When I started out, there was no Plan B; I did not apply for anything other than a hotel apprenticeship. Since then, I have sometimes joked that I would become a park ranger in a national park, taking care of footpath signage maintenance. I love walking and being out in the countryside and am fascinated by long-distance hiking paths (well signposted, of course).

For support with your next career move or to improve your recruitment strategy, please contact FM Recruitment now using any of the below details:

Office +44 20 8600 1160 I Email fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Chris Denison Smith +44 7775 711923 I Email chrisdenisonsmith@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Andrea Shaw +44 7714 236469 I Email andreashaw@fmrecruitment.co.uk

Why the role of Finance is pivotal for the recovery of the hospitality industry 

The Company Linchpin 

With the global economy currently undergoing a significant transformation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of financial leaders in navigating businesses through these unprecedented times has been propelled into the spotlight.

The impact of the pandemic has been felt globally and by most industries, but perhaps none so severely as the travel and hospitality sector. Financial leaders are now in a position where they must not only address major setbacks but provide long-term confidence and strengthen recovery and growth prospects.

Financial chiefs have experienced downturns in the past, following the fallout of the 2008 global financial crash, the war in Iraq and the September 11th terrorist attacks, however, nothing compares to the wide-reaching impact of the pandemic. Hospitality Financial Directors had to move quickly to protect their businesses as much as possible; negotiate with partners to limit exposure, campaign for the government to support the industry through this crisis and make tough decisions regarding furlough and redundancy to ensure that the business survived. These financial crisis management strategies were activated quickly, to help support the recovery which is now underway.

Speed of response and flawless execution is critical in any crisis to reduce its impact and provide confidence to all stakeholders. Through effective financial planning, Chief Financial Officers have driven the timely execution of improvement initiatives to reduce costs, overhaul procurement, revisit pricing strategies, as well as spearheading process improvements and innovations that add value to the company.

“Working smarter, recognising and minimising risks and exploiting opportunities will mean having to be constantly creative”. Howard Field, founder of FM Recruitment commented as he shared his views on strategies for finance as the industry recovers from the pandemic

Maintaining Confidence in the Company

Financial Directors are required to instil confidence in all internal and external stakeholders.

Internally - With so many employees on furlough or made redundant during the pandemic, transparency and honesty were crucial to build trust in the long-term prospects of the company and to maintain integrity. Financial Directors who were able to highlight the challenges ahead with strategies to overcome them were able to help companies communicate and maintain engagement with employees, who could otherwise have chosen to move on. Many hospitality companies have been able to focus on retraining and cross-training employees, using the opportunity to develop employees to adapt to the challenges after re-opening. Businesses that have managed to retain key talent over the period of closure will be best placed to grow the business as we move forward.

Externally – For many customers, how businesses acted during the pandemic will live long in their memories. Financial leaders, under pressure to maximise revenues and reduce costs, needed to weigh up the short-term gains against the long-term prospects and introduce more flexibility. For the most part, customers were hugely understanding and opted for flexible vouchers rather than full refunds and now finance leaders have responded by offering more relaxed cancellation terms to remove barriers, offer flexibility and build confidence to encourage future bookings.

All of this activity is underpinned by increased investor scrutiny to cut costs, grow revenue, and ensure control, which means financial leaders have had to become adept at managing multiple stakeholder requirements to inspire confidence and lead the way with the recovery of the industry.

The Future of Finance – Nurturing the Pipeline of Emerging Talent

According to several UK universities offering courses relating to hospitality and related financial studies, the number of overall undergraduates in hospitality studies has dropped in the last year. With the true impact of Brexit also yet to be clear, it seems likely that hospitality will face some real challenges in recruiting and retaining top talent in the near future.

Undergraduates are reconsidering their options, often tempted into continuing their studies or shifting towards other industries with seemingly more secure prospects. Never has it been more important to guide and nurture those who are showing interest in the hospitality industry.

In a Forbes article from 2020, Robert Parsons, Chief Financial Officer of Exclusive Resorts made an important observation noting “Today’s finance undergraduates absolutely have the necessary hard skills and drive to be successful in the workforce of today and tomorrow. Besides, their ambitions are not curtailed by outdated notions of career trajectories. All they need is an opportunity and then some mentorship. My approach to recruiting and cultivating top talent is to look for the right attitude and core problem-solving skills over just the finance hard skills, and then create opportunities for career advancement.

As active members of HOSPA, Chris and Andrea at FM Recruitment dedicate themselves to mentoring young talent as they progress through their careers. Our guiding hand can help businesses and candidates to optimise skills, showcase the opportunities to progress and help the hospitality industry recover and grow in the post-pandemic world.

For support with your next career move or to improve your recruitment strategy, please contact FM Recruitment now using any of the below details:

Office +44 20 8600 1160 I Email fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Chris Denison Smith +44 7775 711923 I Email chrisdenisonsmith@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Andrea Shaw +44 7714 236469 I Email andreashaw@fmrecruitment.co.uk

 

Will flexible working become the norm?

By definition, flexible working offers employees increased freedom –working from where they choose, flexible work schedules and fitting work around other responsibilities. Whilst flexible working has been increasingly adopted by companies over the years, it’s been accelerated since the start of the pandemic.

Research on the UK Government website shows that 9 out of 10 job seekers want increased flexibility, be it remote working (60%), flexitime (54%) or reduced hours (26%).

In March 2021, the Minister for Women and Equalities, called for flexible working to be “normalised” as part of the UK economy’s Covid-19 recovery, to capitalise on the shift in mindset triggered by the pandemic. Ministers are now preparing to make flexible working a permanent feature of British life post-pandemic, with plans to strengthen employees’ rights to work from home or ask for different hours.

Benefits of Flexible Working

Increase in Job Applications – UK Government-backed Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and jobs website Indeed, shows offering flexible working explicitly in job adverts increases applications by up to 30%. The research, which analysed nearly 20 million applications and is the largest of its kind ever conducted in the UK, shows greater transparency in job adverts would create at least 174,000 flexible jobs to the UK economy per year.

Best of Both Worlds – Flexible working offers the freedom of working from home but access to the community of the office to drive increased collaboration. According to a recent survey of 2000 UK workers by Currys PC World and Canon, 37% identified a better work-life balance as one of the main benefits of remote working, with 54% citing not having to commute as their favourite part.

Increased Opportunities for Equality – According to the minister for women and equalities, “flexible working could help boost job opportunities for women (who are more likely to have to disrupt their careers as a result of caregiving duties) and reduce geographical inequality.”

Spreading the commuter coin – Whilst city-based businesses are reliant on the influx of commuters to city centres across the world, there has been a re-balancing of revenues, with more local businesses benefiting from the shift of working patterns. Over time, with a return to a combination of part office, part home working, it’s encouraging to see this wealth being spread across businesses both in city locations and in local communities.

Is flexible working here to stay?

It depends on many factors – there are many predictions that flexible working is here to stay but on the flip-side, the Centre for Cities think tank predicts the five-day office week will become the norm again within two years as featured in a BBC News article in June 2021.

Ultimately, it will be driven by individual businesses and employee’s wishes, and won’t be a one size fits all approach.

Sector Specific – A flexible working environment naturally suits some sectors more than others. For hospitality, the pandemic was a catalyst to introducing more flexible working practices which improved work-life balance. As the business of hospitality re-opens, naturally many roles are guest-facing so require employees to be present in their place of work

Hospitality, like many sectors, are aware of the importance of their employees’ wellbeing and its impact on performance and productivity, so have been adjusting their return to work policies to introduce a variety of measures to create a better work-life balance for their teams. Hybrid working for those working in non-customer facing roles and a four day week have been some of those policies being trialled currently.

Re-imagining of the Office – With changing working patterns evolving and a move to increased hybrid working, the office space will need to be used differently. More collaborative space, places where people can come together and create and innovate and a revised layout of desks are all some of the practical changes that businesses are adopting as they look to navigate the road back to the office.

At FM Recruitment, we work with clients across all areas of hospitality and associated industries to navigate flexible working. We work alongside our clients to showcase their company’s approach to work-life balance and its employee wellbeing focus to find the best candidate for the role.

We are specialists in financial recruitment at all levels in the UK and internationally. We belong to the Hospitality People Group who offer a wide variety of roles from c-suite level and everything in between.  For support with your next career move or to improve your recruitment strategy, please contact FM Recruitment now using any of the below details:

Office +44 20 8600 1160 I Email fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk

Chris Denison Smith +44 7775 711923 I Email chrisdenisonsmith@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Andrea Shaw +44 7714 236469 I Email andreashaw@fmrecruitment.co.uk 

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