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Content Syndication Program 2 engl

The footprint that stays forever

New approaches, lots of discussion, hard facts: Looking back at HITT 2021 - Digitally controlled sustainability will dominate real estate & concepts in future

HITT 2021 Guests

A relaxed atmosphere for a complex topic: the participants in Munich enjoyed the direct exchange with colleagues and experts. / Photo: HI 

Munich (September 17, 2021). Will the "Carbon Footprint per Available Room" become the new benchmark? Very likely. Must hotel real estate be retrofitted in order to meet sustainability requirements or built differently in order to find guests or operators at all in the future? Yes. "I haven't been negative enough yet," said Keynote Speaker Wes Paul. He wasn't the only one shaking up the hotel industry: With their critical, demanding and challenging impulses, 16 speakers pushed operators and investors not only to think further - but also to act! This week's HospitalityInside Think Tank (HITT) provided executives a content-rich, intensive forum, devoting two days to the crucial topic of the future: "Sustainability & Digitalisation: The Change Drivers."

The time has come. When it comes to sustainability, the hotel and real estate industries can no longer afford to sit things out and simply say "it's always been this way". In Europe, 800,000 people die each year from the effects of air pollution, the world's biodiversity is being lost, and by 2050, 173 million people will be affected by floods or lose their homes: These are just a few of the endless solidly proved facts brought to the table by investment professional and futurist Wes Paul, founder and chairman of Gemin-i Analytics, in HITT's first keynote presentation on Monday. Facts like these are already shaking up the world population and causing great consternation.

Solutions for more sustainability have been around for a long time: Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs demonstrated how hotels can be both sustainable and attractive at the same time at HITT. Depending on the location, it may also be possible to build a sustainable hotel without higher costs. "We make it clear to owners that sustainable hotels cost more in certain locations. But sustainability also saves money - for example, via digitalisation." Investors who do not accept Six Senses' concept and standards are rejected.

  Jacobs Neil PuetzWillems interview HITT 2021
  A self-confident operator: Investors who do not accept the
Six Senses concept and standards are  rejected. CEO Neil
Jacobs answered questions from Maria Puetz-Willems and
the audience from Singapore. 
/ Photo: HI 

Europe is a negative hotspot

The sustainability pressure on real estate owners is growing. Buildings today should be built sustainably and powered by alternative energy sources, and older buildings should be retrofitted accordingly. Europe is the negative hotspot par excellence: This region, with its ancient buildings, is one of the biggest emitters in the world. According to Wes Paul, the biggest obstacles to implementing the important sustainability measures are globalisation, capitalism and democracy. Politicians in democracies are only elected for a short time and therefore do not develop long-term visions.

Thomas Schlereth, architect, developer and owner of the Soulmade brand with his first hotel in Munich-Garching (since 2016), had a whole litany of complaints about the unwillingness of politicians to accept new ideas in a later discussion round: "We were forced to convince the authorities of our timber construction method. But regulations, especially on fire safety, made the battle for the product Soulmade really tough. We built the first four-storey hotel in Germany in modular construction. However, our second hotel will be in Finland, where the whole country wants this product." The construction process for a Soulmade is quick and simple. The pre-produced wooden modules are placed on a cement foundation, so a 140-room hotel like the one in Munich can be completed in 13 months.

Others are also relying on an optimised construction process with pre-fabricated modules. Member of the board of Zech Group, Olaf Demuth, underlined: "Digitalisation will help optimise mechanical steps. We're more into the idea of combining prepared and pre-constructed products." He confirmed: "Currently applicable legislation is a big problem for innovation in our industry, we have a strong focus in Germany on traditional buildings with stone and concrete."

HITT 2021 Discussion  
Q&A helped to break down the complex topic.
/ Photo: HI


International investors drive it forward

Although the majority of customers are not yet willing to spend money on CO2 compensation for their stay, both Schlereth and Adrian Flück, Director Hotel Asset Management Invesco Real Estate, explained who exactly will demand this in the future: Generation X, the guests of the future. Flück also underlined: "International investors are pushing the sustainability agenda, German investors are a bit slower. At HITT 2021, Alex Duckworth, Principal Consultant AECOM Sustainable Development Group, also highlighted the role real estate plays in emissions: "Emissions from building use and construction account for nearly 40% of global emissions each year (all buildings, not just hotels). And commercial real estate represents two-thirds of that," he said. These - real estate-related - emissions would presumably tend to stagnate in the future, whilst they increase in the operational area.

Sustainability only works with IT

Gesa Rohwedder, Head of Hospitality at project management company Drees & Sommer, criticised the construction industry for taking too long to adapt new ideas and technologies. The company is developing new districts or properties with state-of-the-art technological support, also by incorporating demographic data. Rohwedder is convinced that the hotel industry must completely reorganise itself, especially in the cities - and become even more imaginative in the redesign and revitalisation of vacant conference spaces. There will be a post-event for the HITT participants in early 2002.

Accor's Chief Technology Officer, Floor Bleeker, explained how closely sustainability and technology can be linked in companies: "We don't own real estate, but we do have standards for buildings, such as energy and water consumption. The way we run hotels and the technology we use can go a long way in terms of sustainability. This also includes data analysis and the introduction of innovations. We don't do it ourselves, we work with start-ups."

CO2 footprint as a new component

Andreas Ewald, founder and CEO of the hotel division at Engel & Völkers, attested that international hotel brands have higher sustainability requirements than German ones. IT is not only capable of determining building information and calculating construction costs but can even predict the life cycle of a property.

  Zu Hohenlohe Xenia Williams Tony HITT 2021
  Teamwork: Xenia zu Hohenlohe live in Munich and Tony
Williams in Dubai analysed certifications and know: The
carbon footprint per overnight stay is becoming the currency
for customers.
/ Photo: HI 

IT facilitates sustainability. Basically, technological solutions can be found for everything, says Klaus Kohlmayr of IDeaS: At the moment, he said, big data problems are being solved primarily in the fields of profit optimisation, pricing and forecasting. But developments, for example in resource management, are not a problem at all. The more data collected from the buildings, but also from the behaviour of guests and employees, the more problems could be solved.

Guests and the economy
demand new standards

Especially in the corporate sector, the demand for sustainability criteria of hotels is increasing enormously, as Renée Nicole Wagner, Project Manager Corporate Social Responsibility Northern Europe at Accor revealed as a participant: "Every single RFP in this area crosses my desk and it takes me a long time to answer questions on this topic. Companies have a growing need for information," she said. Topics like plastic elimination or food waste come up particularly frequently, but water and energy consumption are also regularly asked about. "If we don't respond, we lose guests."

Xenia zu Hohenlohe from Considerate Group said she was pleased to hear that even Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing was now giving sustainability very high priority. She chaired the 8th keynote speech on the measurability of measures, together with sustainability consultant Tony Williams from Dubai. Both not only led the audience through the jungle of international sustainability regulations and quality seals, but also used practical examples to show how measures can be derived and money saved by taking data measurements, such as energy and water consumption. "The CO2 footprint per overnight stay will become the currency for customers - that is, it is the simplest yardstick", said Xenia.

Neumann Wolfgang HITT 2021  

Wolfgang Neumann made a passionate appeal
to the managers: True leaders live
sustainability and responsibility! / Photo: HI



Wolfgang Neumann, Chairman of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, which now includes 14 leading hotel companies with a total of 30,000 hotels, including Marriott, IHG, Hilton, Accor and Dorint, described industry collaboration as the most important goal on sustainability issues. On the Alliance's homepage you will find, among other things, a numerical example of how sustainability reduces costs.

Other panels dealt with national and international regulations on the subject of sustainability and the question of how these can be contractually regulated between owner and operator. "If hotel developers have higher investment costs as a result, there will be higher capex costs going forward. Will rents then rise and with them operating costs? And does this then lead to higher rates for the guests?" asked Ulrich Hennigs of Baker McKenzie from Berlin. Creativity is needed when it comes to allocating the costs of sustainability measures. "The owner needs to start doing this and create concepts together with the operator for sustainability measures for the building and share the cost." / Susanne Stauss


QUOTES on the HITT 2021
What did you take home?

> "A great event in a pleasant atmosphere, where very complex topics could be discussed in depth with top experts from the field. However, it also became clear that the entire industry still has a very long way to go, especially on the topic of ESG, which can only be successfully tackled together. It became clear that there is not much time for this. It is therefore all the more important to create awareness with events of this kind. Many thanks for the great organisation and implementation."
Hans-Peter Hermann, Senior Director Asset Management Hotels, Invesco Real Estate

> "Before the HITT, I was not aware that sustainability and digitalisation were already so important in architecture, urban planning and the redesign of buildings. The discussions confirmed that the pandemic will change a lot in the long term, but will also be the cause for the necessary change. Eye-opening presentations with a hopeful outlook. It was great."
Caro Brauer, Management, QR Hotels

> "Great event. Great exchange with industry piers and partners on the very important topic of sustainability and digitalisation. Very well structured programme and a number of great speakers who provided the impetus to share and exchange knowledge, supported by the Think Tank format.
It was good to learn and reflect on the work that many have done in this area, but it reminds me/us all that more needs to be done to meet the regulators' objectives and meet the expectations of guests and staff to address and drive the ESG agenda.
Many thanks to HospitalityInside for providing this platform to pool knowledge, create transparency and stimulate possible actions and activities."
Andreas Lackner, Regional Head Brand Management EMEA, Hilton

> "Great Event. Great exchange with industry peers and partner on the very important topic of sustainability and digitalisation. Very well structured program and line-up of great speaker providing the impulse for exchange and knowledge sharing, supported by the think tank format. Good to learn and reflect on the work done in that field by many, still a reminder for me/all that more needs to be done to achieve regulators goals and to deliver on guest and employee expectation to address and drive the ESG agenda. Thank you very much to HospitalityInside to provide this platform to combine knowledge, create transparency and to stimulate possible action and activities."
Dr. Michael Hartung, Managing Director & Development Director Premier Inn Germany

> "I am convinced that we will see a shift from mass tourism to meaningful travel. What this can look like and what this entails for owners and operators was discussed impressively over two days at HITT. A circle peppered with top international speakers and top participants who did not come from the usual filter bubble of the industry contributed greatly to the enrichment of this event. The idea that I will implement for all future projects of mine, for example, is the CaFoPaR - Carbon Footprint Per available Room. A quite wonderful way to measure your own activities and maybe compare them with others."
Marco Nussbaum, Managing Partner, Next Hotel Accelerator

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire HospitalityInside team for an outstanding HITT experience. It was wonderful to be there live again. The selection of speakers was excellent and of top level. It served as a perfect sharpening of the focus on the future topics of technology and sustainability. I found the dialogue in the round exceptionally enriching and inspiring. Now I am looking forward to HITT 5th Edition."
Wilhelm Luxem, General Manager, Baur au Lac Zurich

> "A very special event with exciting presentations for these macro issues of sustainability and digitalisation, and how the two support each other to bring about change. The talk by the renowned Wes Paul put these topics and their likely impact on global developments in the coming decades in a different light once again, even if some of his views and predictions will hopefully not come to pass in such rigor."
Philipp von Bodman, Managing Partner, Achat Hotel Group

> "Virtually, the event was also a win. I thought it was great that HospitalityInside dedicated two days to the probably most important future topic of sustainability. What I missed was the young generation, who will ensure that this topic is really taken seriously."
Matthias Niemeyer, Managing Director, Adina Germany


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