News: AHIC 2018: Reality of hotel investment risks to come under spotlight

The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2018 will offer strategic insights to the principles of hotel investment, development and construction; showcase regional and global hospitality projects with live investment opportunities; and provide more networking events than ever before.

The 2018 event will be held at the purpose-built AHIC Village in the grounds of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.

The programme has been shaped following the AHIC Advisory Board, held at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai, at which 37 of the Middle East’s leading hotel owners, developers, and operators and consultants gathered to debate issues focused around the key pillars of hotel investment, innovation and inspiration.

The board revealed a collective desire to build hotels for ROI, with land, development and construction costs all coming under scrutiny.

Participants look to better understand value engineering, the use of renewable energy sources and sustainable construction for decreased costs – all topics that will be featured in the AHIC 2018 programme.

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Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events, organisers of AHIC, said: “Our annual Advisory Board meeting is an essential component of the programming for AHIC, and we are very grateful for the input of all members.

“Every year, the discussion is different, and this debate was dominated by a clear focus on the costs of development versus the reality of returns.

“There was a thirst for knowledge around issues such as risk adjustment and returns, supply and security, facilitation of foreign investment, ownership models and even exit strategies for distressed assets.”

Worsley continued: “Our Advisory Board also discussed new investment vehicles; innovative finance models; cryptocurrencies and digital payments; the impact of the co-living and working movement on the hotel model; how to maximise the religious tourism market in KSA; and where and what is the new mid-market.

“These are the hard-hitting topics we plan to address at AHIC 2018.”

Considering the latest Middle East hotel pipeline and performance data, presented to the board by Philip Wooller, area director Middle East, STR, owners and operators alike aired their concerns about the continuing imbalance between supply and demand and the inevitable consequence of declining RevPAR.

Currently, the Middle East is one of only two regions globally, the other being South America, in which supply is outstripping demand, with supply increasing at a rate of 4.9 per cent versus demand at 3.2 per cent.

The board also revealed a desire for insights from other business sectors and for the first time, AHIC 2018 will feature a ‘Spotlight on Innovation’ series with speakers from outside the hospitality industry taking to the stage.

In addition to three days of engaging content, AHIC 2018 will present its first Project Showcase, highlighting regional and international hotel investment opportunities.

Haitham Mattar, chief executive, RAKTDA, said: “These strong performance indicators, which are expected to continue throughout the last quarter of 2017 and beyond, clearly outline the potential for investors in looking at Ras Al Khaimah for their next hospitality venture.

“As Ras Al Khaimah draws closer to reaching its one million visitors target by the end of 2018 and charts a path towards attracting 2.9 million visitors by 2025, the need for quality hotel rooms has never been so important.

“To accommodate this growth in visitors, we are providing potential investors a range of innovative opportunities to develop stand out properties across the emirate,” Mattar said, adding that these would be showcased at AHIC.

RAKTDA is working closely with the AHIC team to create the custom-built AHIC Village, in partnership with renowned designer Harlequin Arena Group.

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