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he Australasian Hotel Industry Conference and Exhibition (AHICE) began at
Grand Hyatt Melbourne on May 3 with one of the event ’s most talked-about
sessions – a keynote from Holly Ransom, CEO of Emergent, who gave an
inspiring talk on how to grab the attention and business of Millennials, a market
segment known also as the “four minute attention span generation”.
Ransom – who is an experienced non-executive director across the private, government
and non-profit sectors – gave delegates a brief insight into the Millennial mindset and
shared tips and tricks on how to appeal to the often misunderstood market segment.
“ W hen we have an engaged millennial present, they will spend 200 per cent more a
year and they are five times likely be loyal,” Ransom said.
She was followed by Lancemore Group CEO and Accommodation of Australia
President, Julian Clark, who gave delegates a brief overview on the state of the industry
which was vastly positive.
“New hotel brands entering the market place in Australia are going to make the hotel
industry more dynamic,” he conveyed enthusiastically.
Matt Burke (Regional Manager Pacific, STR) and Bryon Merzeo (Analyst, Deloitte)
shared some key data for the major markets of Australia and New Zealand, and it was
the world’s adventure capital of Queenstown that proved to be the standout performer,
with Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) growing at an astounding 20 per cent at
present, while in the key market of Sydney, occupancy will be flat for the next three years
and Average Daily Rate (ADR) will increase by five per cent per annum.
A first-time speaker at AHICE, Spicers Retreats’ Managing Director, David Assef,
revealed that over the last 12 months the group’s bottom line has grown by 25-30 per
cent and the company ’s growth ambitions are to increase the amount of properties in the
group – owned by Flight Centre Managing Director Graham Turner and his wife Jude –
to over 20 by 2025, up from the nine that are currently in operation.
The first of two development sessions at AHICE was up next and there was a theme
of ‘Identifying the hot cities for 2017-2020: where should owners be building?’
During the session, AccorHotels’ Vice President Development Pacific and Vice
President Franchise Operations, Lindsay Leeser, said despite the positive RevPAR
numbers coming from New Zealand, it was construction
prices that are holding back hotel development in
Auckland and Queenstown; Marriott International’s
Senior Director – Development, Australia, New Zealand
and Pacific, Richard Crawford, said the company ’s
long-term outlook was to invest in quality; TFE Hotels’
Executive Development Manager, Michael Herman,
spoke about the potential from Sydney’s second airport
at Badgerys Creek, saying it is “one of the biggest
things happening in Australia at the moment for the
industry”; Mantra Group’ Director of Acquisitions,
Michael Moret-Lalli, spoke about the company’s growth
ambitions, including in the United States; while Hyatt
Hotels and Resorts’ Area Vice President – Pacific, Robert
Dawson, looked at what ’s next for the company including
the soon-to-open Hyatt Place hotel at Melbourne’s
AccorHotels’ Chairman and CEO of Asia-Pacific,
Michael Issenberg, then gave delegates a key insight into
the significant growth of the company, particularly on
the recent brand acquisitions and investments (Fairmont,
Raffles and Swissotel alongside Banyan Tree) as well as
the significant shift into the technology space.
“ The digital space is crucial... If you can’t stay on
the forefront of that then you’re in trouble,” he said.
“ We see that as an opportunity and want to be in that
space and have made a number of acquisitions including
Onefinestay, Travel Keys, Square Break and Oasis.”
Issenberg, who weighed in on the debate against Airbnb,
told delegates that he didn’t believe the private rental market
would destroy hotels, instead calling the peer-to-peer site a
“thin digital layer over under-utilised assets”.
“If you look at all the apartments being built in Sydney
and Melbourne and if the residential demand is not there,
it’s going to be filled by private rentals,” he said.
News was also broken throughout the day, with
Wyndham revealing new hotels in Christchurch and
Queenstown in New Zealand; Avani announcing its
upcoming debut in Auckland; and IHG announcing its
intentions to expand its popular Indigo brand to Melbourne.
Whilst the sessions were live tweeted by HM’s editorial
team, delegates also took to social media to share their
thoughts on each speaker using the hashtag #AHICE2017.
Rosie Morley, an AHICE delegate and an Associate
at Carr Design Group, excitedly tweeted: “Mortal
HM hosted a successful eighth annual Australasian Hotel
Industry Conference and Exhibition (AHICE) in Melbourne
during May, with a record number of 800 delegates descending
on the Victorian capital for two comprehensive days of insights,
trends and analysis of the accommodation industry globally.
ATTRACTS A RECORD 800
DELEGATES OVER TWO DAYS
By Bonnie Tai and James Wilkinson. Photography by Andrew Jarvie
24 HM The Business of Accommodation
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