HICAP 2019 Recap

Last Updated
10 April 2020

From OYO and the fast growth of the economy brand, to Bensley and the death of  ‘greenwashing’

All eyes are on Hong Kong as we round the third day of the annual Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP) at Kerry Hotel Hong Kong. Organised by The BHN Group, the event brings together the world’s leading decision-makers, advisors and investors for the travel and tourism industries.

Among them is QUO CEO David Keen, who moderated a panel yesterday entitled, ‘Economy Hotels – Lower-End Means High-End Returns’. The panel featured Horwath HTL Director Eunice Aw, Kerzner International Executive Vice President of Global Business and Real Estate Development Paul Macpherson, and Artyzen Hospitality Group President Robbert N. van der Maas.

This spirited discussion allowed the industry insiders to weigh in on lower-cost, higher-yield hotels and the finer points for owners of these investments. 

While David has overseen branding of properties at all price points for over 20 years, Eunice was able to bring her specialised knowledge of Asian hotel financial feasibility to the conversation. On the hospitality executive management forefront, Paul is well-versed on the business in Dubai and the Middle East and Robbert, an operations executive for Hyatt and MGM before co-founding his own company, has expertise on the industry in China, Bali, Hawaii and the Maldives.

Looming large in their discussion was the impact of economy hotel chains like OYO and how the space between this most simplistic version of a hospitality brandreally just a label, a sign, and red pillows in disparate properties with varying offeringsstands up against the more defined economy brands like IBIS or Yotel.

The panel ventured to ask if there could be another level of service and branding in between and how much developing that space would rely on design and service.

They delved next into functionality versus meaningful lifestyle brands. Paul made some salient points about how both are able to multiply very quickly using differing strategies. Robbert noted a market gap in the space between economy and midscale brands and the opportunity in terms of development in this segment.

The excitement continued this morning at a panel entitled ‘Development Track: Beyond Gateway MarketsSecond Can Be First’. Moderated by Cyndy Tan Jarabata, President of Jabara Hospitality, the discussion gave way to a lively chat led by inimitable hotel designer Bill Bensley. 

David jumped into the discussion to touch on the greater purpose of the hospitality industry and the men agreed on one thingthat all projects should serve a greater purpose, whether sustainability, doing good or being good on a level far deeper than the current persistent industry tend of ‘greenwashing’, or making brands sound more environmentally friendly than they truly are. Food waste and solar power were just two of the topics volleyed in this segment before the conversation came to a close. 

Overall, the event presented fresh ideas about great design, budget options, sustainability and the betterment of communities.  

David left Hong Kong inspired and excited about the industry. Don’t hesitate to contact us or email David directly if you’d like to hear more. And keep an eye on this space for further information on the soul of QUO and how it’s evolving


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