Earlier this week the Advisory Board for the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) 2020 gathered at Pennyhill Park in Surrey. The group, which comprises 80 senior representatives from across the international hospitality community, came together to create the building blocks for the next edition of the meeting of global collaboration; IHIF. Drawing on extensive experience within their respective knowledge fields and their familiarity with the conference, this exclusive group is the brain trust engaged to ensure the event continually innovates whilst providing the content and networking opportunities that consistently prove so valuable to delegates.
The meeting started with a thought-provoking Oxford Debate inviting tables to argue for or against the motion: “Artificial Intelligence and Technology destroy jobs”. Expert speakers Olly Rees, Technology Expert and Co-Founder, OR/Innovation and Iain Hennessey, consultant paediatric surgeon and Director of Innovation, Alder Hey Children’s Health Park gave enlightening speeches for (Olly) and against (Iain) the motion and the debate was then thrown open to the room. Chair of the IHIF Advisory Board, Jonathan Langston commented: “Implementing a creative style of debate really challenged people to think laterally. Its energetic style was infectious and encouraged lively debate. The members of the IHIF Advisory Board are luminaries within the industry and we wanted to fully harness their widespread experience and knowledge whilst engaging with them in a creative and high-spirited format. We also focussed on what could be introduced to IHIF to further enhance the conference; ideas such as the introduction of a digital delegate pass and hearing from emerging, disruptive companies that are challenging the industry were raised.”
Subsequent sessions debated whether the hotel sector suffered irreparably from the separation of bricks and mortar, and the Board divided into those for and against the motion. Key industry topics were tabled including; Asset Management, Finance & Investment, Customer Experience, Adjacent Spaces, Brands, Emerging Markets, Technology, Sustainability and F&B. The meeting drew on Board members’ intimate understanding of these subject areas to elicit new and creative ways to represent these topics on the conference programme and identify dynamic and engaging speakers. Salient issues from the industry debated by the Board were the increasing importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues by investors during the acquisition process, a point that was also raised at the CEO Council during IHIF earlier this year. Asset Management remains an important area of the industry and the Board sought case studies in order to provide an authentic voice and create engagement with the session.
The Board recommended an increase in investors attending IHIF emanating from Asia and America as well as more diverse representation both amongst speakers and delegates, to include women and those from minority backgrounds. It was confirmed that IHIF 2020 will incorporate the Pullman hotel, located opposite the InterContinental, to extend the formal content and networking programme.
Reflecting on the event, Alexi Khajavi, Managing Director of EMEA Hospitality + Travel Group, Questex said: “The hospitality investment sector is vibrant and diverse and our IHIF Advisory Board reflects that. With a talent pool of over 80 members comprising senior-level professionals from private equity, institutional investors, lenders, operators, legal, advisors, technology and design we’re able to test the breadth and depth of the sector while honing in on the topics that are going to inform and inspire our global audience next March. The Advisory Board’s stamp is firmly imprinted on the final product and it’s a pleasure for us at Questex to continue to work so closely with the hotel industry for nearly three decades now.”
The day concluded with an exclusive tour of the England Rugby training facilities, based at Pennyhill Park.