Could you describe briefly who you are and where you set yourself in the PropTech Industry?
I am a Managing Director at JLL and co-head of the European Transactions team within the Hotel and Hospitality Group. I focus on substantial single assets and portfolio deals in Europe and import of capital from the US, Asia and the Middle East.
Today, 70% of investors in hotels are real estate generalist investors mostly as a consequence of strong tourism fundamentals and the traditional real estate becoming a hotel-like product with co-working for offices and flexible short-term rental for residential.
I see the way PropTech has changed traditional practices, and this has an impact on the day to day of us doing business and creating value for investors and shareholders.
What do you think are the challenges of the hospitality industry at the moment?
Most investors in the sector strive for the same answer, albeit with different business plans and cost of capital. It means that, if we remove any noise from the broader economy and outside factors, investors hope to increase revenue and profitability. Different segments of the hotel industry face different challenges. Lifestyle hotels are facing increased competition with upwards pressure on having qualified and well travel labour that can connect with guests. Budget hotels are facing rising costs and very little price elasticity. Most luxury high-end hotels are not distinctive enough for the UHNWI and are sacrificing their rate to attract corporate travellers competing with traditional Five Star hotels.
What key advice would you give to PropTech entrepreneurs seeking to develop start-ups operating within the hospitality industry?
Look at two sides of our business, the trading side (anything you can see in the management accounts) and the growth/aggregation side of our fragmented industry. On the management accounts, offer solutions to owners and help them reinvent hospitality – historically, this has always come from the outside. On the growth/aggregation side ensure you identify what owners want as they will be your final customer. On both, spend time with people within hotels (General managers, head of operations, bartenders) and specialist hotel investors. It is through connecting the dots that you will find the opportunity.
Do you think hospitality companies in different regions have different needs when it comes to hotel technology or finding the right tech partner?
A common theme in the hospitality industry is its consciousness of cost and reluctance for change. Be ready to have to do a lot of convincing. There are systems in place which are also perceived as a “big investment” from brands and hoteliers any new system will have to be complementary or integrated. It is where it gets technical and an important point that technology partners might overlook.
Which specific Technology has caught your eye and that you think will revolutionise the hospitality and property industry?
None, for a while. I am not exposed to new propositions, and the existing bigger ones are unlikely to revolutionise the industry. I am keen to hear or see more as I am sure it is out there waiting to be discovered.