The International Hotel Investment Forum Berlin

A behind-the-scenes look from a hospitality management student. 

“What is happening here is not average, it’s extraordinary; over 2000 people, 79 countries, 800 companies. You ladies and gentleman represent the global hospitality industry, and right here, right now, it is the center of it all. You are the tastemakers, the dealmakers, you are here to inform, inspire, and conduct business. That is why we are here, 20 years now, offering platforms for the solutions to challenges our industry faces, while making the deals and illuminating the trends that will continue to define and drive hotel investment and development forward in the decades to come. IHIF is the meeting of global collaboration for a reason; together we set the goals forward. Because there is no stop on hospitality, only go, this is the working due, this is why you come to IHIF. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Berlin, welcome to the 20th International Investment Forum.“
- Questex Hospitality Group 

Just last January, ESSEC Hospitality Management students received an email from the school’s administration telling them that three students would have the opportunity to represent the school by participating in the organization of the 20th annual International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin in March.  Being interested in hotel development, I applied and was selected. To tell the truth, I was so excited. I was going to attend one of the biggest global events of the hotel investment and development sector!
On Sunday, 5th of March, my teammates and myself arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel Berlin early in the morning to start prepping for the pending conference.  We met Questex Hospitality Group team as well as students from other hotel schools also there to help. We got briefed on how the forum will work and what we will have to do for the next three days. This first day of preparations was quite intense, including stuffed over 2000 bags with promotional material for nearly 4 hours! Once Questex told us “get ready, you are not going to enjoy the outside breeze for the next 3 days!” - something that we hoped was a bit of an exaggeration.

And indeed, the first day was intense. We started the day at 8am, setting up the registration desk. By 10.30am, we were ready to check-in over 2000 people. It was quite insane. We did a good job. I personally enjoyed being rushed and I found it very cool to check-in the senior leaders of the hospitality industry. One of my main tasks was to escort speakers from the registration desk to the back-stage area, which was very interesting. I had the chance to talk with, for example, Sébastien Bazin, CEO of Accorhotels, as well as Philip Ward, CEO Hotels & Hospitality Group EMEA of Jones Lang LaSalle, amongst many others.

With the rush of the first morning over, the next two days were far more relax. We could participate in conferences, round tables, and breakout sessions. They offered a concise overview of the global hospitality market, its most strategic trends, with opinions and debate from the who’s who of the market’s key players. Some sessions talked about the economic uncertainty, and especially the macro backdrop for the hospitality industry in the year ahead. Others focused on hotel investment today, on asset management, and on how the hospitality investment landscape might evolve over the next 20 years. Other conferences covered the digital revolution and what form the next global hotel group business models might take. Overall, the formal sessions covered a very broad range of topics about the hospitality investment sector, with presentations and insight from the leaders of the global hospitality industry. IHIF is the place to be when you are in the hospitality industry! However, we also got the chance to attend the two night events organized by Questex: the special 20th anniversary Birthday Party and the Gala Networking Reception. In addition to being fun, these gave us the opportunity to network with the CEOs, managers, investors, and developers of hundreds of hospitality companies. This was for sure the best moments to network and meet the vast number of Essec Hospitality Management alumni who work in key positions in hotel investment, development, and operations.

Overall, from a student organize perspective, the IHIF was a great experience. I was very proud to help Questex to organize such this event even if at times the workload was quite intense. By participating, I got the chance to meet and interact with senior executives from the hospitality sector and gain valuable insight in currently developments in our industry. It really opened, once again, my eyes to how broad and diverse this sector is, and to the vast amount of potential the industry offers. I was super happy I took the chance to participate, and the best of it is that I’ve earned a free entrance for next year, but as a guest this time. A big thanks to Questex and ESSEC Business School for making the opportunity available to me and investing in future talent in this interesting way.

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