Thomas  Willms photo
Thomas Willms

Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Hospitality

IHIF in conversation with Thomas Willms, CEO, Deutsche Hospitality

Thomas will be speaking on the Global CEO Panel - Adapting to Survive & Thrive: Hear from the CEOs Leading the Change, 10.40 – 11.30 on Tuesday 5th March during the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) which takes place 4-6th March at the InterContinental Hotel, Berlin  

1. How would you describe the hotel investment market in 2019?  

2019 will be an important year for our industry. Major European cities will be facing the end of the growth period due to the high level of hotel property prices and the increase in development costs. Low interest rates will still support brand acquisitions and / or hotel real estate purchases. Brexit and its impact on our industry, especially the exchange rate changes are still uncertain. In Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, we see branding and investment opportunities in some major cities and as well as in leisure destinations, taking into account the real estate and hotel market improvements  


2. What is Deutsche Hospitality’s position and strategy for the year to come?  


As Germany's leading family-owned hotel group, we will continue to strength our brands and differentiation efforts. Our urban live style brand "Jaz in the City" is maintaining good momentum.  

The recently introduced conversion brand "MAXX by Steigenberger" is specially tailored to franchises, which is a relatively new market segment with great potential for us.  

We will continue the international success of IntercityHotels, especially in the Middle East.  

And finally: The Steigenberger brand will undergo an evolution in 2019, which will be supported equally by solid investments in hardware and software. More exciting news will follow in the coming months.  

In terms of development, we want to expand the portfolio into Southern and Eastern Europe and concentrate on the franchise opportunities of Maxx by Steigenberger and IntercityHotels in the Central Europe region.  


3. What are the biggest challenges faced by hoteliers/investors in the current hotel investment market?  


As a hotelier, our biggest challenge is still the HR. We need to think differently and take extra steps to invest in human resources over the next few years. The increase in land and construction costs will continue to make it difficult to find the right property for a reasonable purchase or lease price  


4. What existing hotel brands do you think are most interesting to watch?  


Mergers & acquisitions and global distribution will be very interesting. I'm sure there will be more ...  

Also interesting is the trend of the brands: Budget, Hostel and Living & Working Concepts. Square meter optimization is the answer to increased real estate and construction costs, so existing brands need to be adjusted and new brands might get more footprint.  


5. Who or what is the biggest inspiration guiding your career?  


I grew up in the hotel industry. My family was and is my biggest inspirer and motivation. However, I had the privilege of working with great leaders like Roeland Vos or Barry Sternlicht at Starwood Hotels & Resorts.  


6. What are you most looking forward to at IHIF?  


Personally, I am looking forward to meeting my colleagues and friends of the industry in Berlin.  

Professionally, I am proud as CEO of the evolution and accomplishments of Deutsche Hospitality in the last twelve months. That's why I'm here to present perhaps the best Deutsche Hospitality and its brands that you've ever seen.  


7. You are taking part in the Global CEO Panel – ‘Adapting to Survive & Thrive’ which will discuss many elements including adapting to changing economic conditions, travel trends, operational requirements, labour markets etc. One significant area to be discussed is the value of brands for the future – what are your views on the role of hotel brands and their relevance to the next generation of travellers?  


Continuously focus on the needs of the travelers, new trends, by creating environments to fulfill our guests and our associates needs are the key to maintain and increase the value of the brand for the future. Together with our strong partners and owners increase our presence in key markets is also very important to remain competitive.

Hosted by

Questex Hospitality Group

Our Other Events

The Annual Hotel Conference (AHC)

9-10- October 2019
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Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum (MR&H)

29-31 October 2019
Athens, Greece

Israel Hotel Investment Summit (IHIS)

20–21 November 2019
Location to be confirmed in due course

Asia Pacific Hotel Investment Conference (APHIC)

25-26 April 2019
Bangkok, Thailand