Optimism abounds at AHICE Aotearoa
Over 450 delegates were in attendance for the inaugural AHICE Aotearoa at Pullman Auckland on Thursday.
The day began with an Investment Outlook Masterclass breakfast led by Colliers – Hotels Country Director Dean Humphries, who revealed opportunities in the New Zealand market and discussed important deals, including the announcement of the sale of the portfolio of 10 YHA hostels to a foreign investor. Although Humphries could not reveal details of the buyer, he said it was a ‘well-known tourism fund’ and was their first investment in New Zealand.
Humphries was joined by Mark Thomson, general manager of property and commerce at Auckland Airport, who detailed experiences of the airline industry’s recovery.
“Domestic [flights] are currently at around 85% of pre-COVID levels and we are confident that will reach 100% by the end of the calendar year,” Thomson said.
“International is 60% at the moment and based on slot bookings – bookings made by airlines for international – we see that will reach 70% by the end of the year. This is really encouraging for several reasons.
Development Hotels and Resorts Director of Event Hospitality Peter Hill also expressed optimism about New Zealand’s prospects.
“Our long-term view is incredibly positive – with many markets opening up, air capacity increasing, New Zealand’s big draw will be stronger than ever,” he said.
Managing Director of Aust and NZ International Investment Group (ANZIIG), Yesh Mudaliar, spoke about the opportunities China will bring when reopening.
“In my opinion, the Chinese market is a sleeping giant,” he said.
“When they come back, it will be a great moment for hoteliers, we can conquer this market and welcome them with open arms. According to the information we have, it is expected to come back in the second half of the year next. “
Hotel Council Aotearoa’s strategic director, James Doolan, crunched the numbers, revealing that New Zealand’s 350 hotels represent an estimated total asset value of NZ$12.25 billion. Meanwhile, STR – Pacific Regional Manager Matt Burke dug into the data behind hotel bookings and revealed New Zealand hotels are 50% booked for the next six months.
On the design side, experts from the Pro-invest group, Scott Carver and others discussed the integration of cultural design and the importance of sustainability in design and construction.
Nicholas Dalton of TOA Architects discussed the Motive framework and why it’s important that when it comes to sustainability, the focus is not just on the site, but also on the environment, to elevate the whole of the environment.
AHICE Chair and Organizer James Wilkinson was joined by Accor Pacific CEO Sarah Derry who discussed Jo&Joe’s entry into New Zealand, in partnership with CP Group, as well as the entry of Tribe and Hyde, and the success of Accor’s sponsorship of Stadium. Australia.
“The Accor stadium is an incredible opportunity for us – not just branding – inside all the individual brands that come to life,” she said. “And our loyal customers can experience it all.”
She also spoke about Accor’s partnership with Qantas and Status Match, where guests can earn Qantas Points when staying at an Accor property and can earn ALL points when traveling with Qantas.
Owner Insights saw executives from Pro-invest, Langham, CP Group and others share their insights.
CP Group New Zealand Asset Manager Terry Ngan discussed the importance of technology in hotel operations, guest experience and how hotels recruit and retain staff.
He also talked about the CP Group as a leader in sustainability, becoming the first hotel group in the country to benefit from a sustainability-linked loan.
“This journey started 10 years ago, not last year,” he said.
“It’s the culmination of that and our strong team of ESG managers and leaders that has led our bank to believe in us and fund us, and give us KPIS to reduce carbon emissions and improve the ESG.”
National Party point of view
New Zealand National Party leader Chris Luxon spoke passionately about reviving the tourism industry and his desire to work directly with industry leaders to deliver results.
“I want to work in quite a different way where you generate the sector strategy,” he said.
Promoting the return of international travelers and skilled workers was a key part of his presentation.
“We need to revive tourism and we need to do it now,” he said.
“You have to realize when you put up barriers [to working in New Zealand]people will look for better opportunities elsewhere and we have to be competitive. »
Luxon said the National Party has called on the government to make New Zealand a more attractive destination for working holidaymakers, as well as a three-month visitor visa which WHM visa holders can add to their stay for enjoy the country more.
“The main way forward for New Zealand is value rather than volume,” he said.
“We need to gain more from each of our international visitors coming to New Zealand, and the likelihood of more turbulent economic times ahead of us as a global economy means accessing those more valuable visitors that we have found in the GFC. “
He also talked about productivity in the tourism sector, which he said “is in the mid-1940s.”
“If we can increase tourism productivity to be in the top 10%, we would earn an additional $9 billion in value from tourism every year,” he said.
“Tourism can help pave the way for increased growth and prosperity.”
F&B, technology, development
F&B experts spoke about the role of technology in foodservice venues and how robots can boost productivity, especially in times of staff shortages. Plant-based nutrition was also a major topic of discussion, as was the importance of fostering the return of skilled workers with better training, culture and motivation.
New Zealand businessman Sir Ian Taylor had a captive audience for his keynote address. He spoke about his world-leading computer graphics company Animation Research Ltd – launched at the height of COVID in 2020 – which uses Virtual Eye technology to provide real-time sports graphics for the world’s biggest sporting events.
In a pre-recorded video interview, Air New Zealand Human Resources Director Nikki Dines shared the importance of diversity within the workforce, including cultural and gender diversity and hiring of people with disabilities. Air New Zealand flights incorporate the Maori language into the onboard service.
“For those who are fluent, we want to celebrate them so their colleagues learn and customers learn,” she said.
Dean Humphries from Colliers returned for an afternoon session, highlighting the strength of the latest round of hotel development in New Zealand, with 54 hotels built.
“I don’t think we’ll ever see a bigger development cycle – which started in 2016-17 and will end in 2024-25 – it’s been a real journey,” he said.
In the development outlook, panelists talked about the rise of mixed-use developments.
“Many investors are looking to reduce risk, so many future properties will be mixed-use,” said Elena Martiniuc, director of development performance at BWH Hotel Group.
Delegates had a culture lesson with Sudima Rotorua Hotel Operations Manager Awatere Douglas and Sofitel Wellington Regional General Manager Raymond Faulkner who taught delegates Maori song and dance.
Langham Hospitality Group CEO Brett Butcher also appeared via video interview, discussing the development of Cordis Auckland and the group’s hopes to expand into New Zealand.
“We are very keen to speak to anyone who would like to expand our Cordis or Langham brand into New Zealand,” he said.
“I think the Eaton brand fits very well in New Zealand. We would like to bring the Langham brand back to Auckland. Cordis or Langham fits perfectly in Queenstown, Wellington and other destinations.
During the final session, delegates enjoyed drinks with the bosses, with executives from Wyndham, TFE and more sharing some final thoughts on the future of the industry.
The event ended with a gala reception at the Pullman Auckland.