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Global Leaders to Attend Berlin Hotel Investment Conference

Search ASIA Travel Tips .com 25 February 2003

Despite current economic and political concerns, the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) is experiencing unprecedented demand, with a record attendance of 1,000 delegates anticipated at this year's event. The  IHIF will be held 11-13 March at the Hotel InterContinental in Berlin, Germany. According to Jonathan Worsley, co-organiser of the conference: "With less than three weeks to go until the Forum begins, we are seeing no let-up in the demand for tickets, despite the political turmoil the world is facing at the  moment."

One of the industry's icons, Bill Marriott Jr, will be Conference Chair and provide a keynote presentation. Marriott is credited with building Marriott  Hotels into the global powerhouse leader it is today. A dynamic list of speakers is planned, including CNN's lead business correspondent, Becky Anderson, who will moderate a panel of chief executives from five international hotel giants.

 Issues discussed at the IHIF will include: the impact of war on the hospitality business; how the industry will cope in this age of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction; who will be the winners during this downturn in the market and what products will survive and thrive; what is the impact of hotel brands and their pricing strategies with the growing influence of  intermediators such as travel websites; and will these technology giants be the brands of the future? Martha Lane Fox, Co-founder of Lastminute.com and one of the survivors of the dot-com bubble, will be  making a welcome return to the IHIF after reporting positive earnings last week.

There will be a number of investment and deal panels reviewing those countries and sectors most attractive for investment and discussing the  scope for further sale and leasebacks in the industry. Derek Gammage, Managing Director of Insignia Hotels, will be addressing such issues, asking his panel: "Has the sale and leaseback model been a success story and what is the appetite for additional institutional investment in the sector  despite weak earnings?" Paul Slattery, Director of Otus & Co, will be moderating a group of Chief Financial Officers from the hotel industry and  will ask his panel: "What alternative strategies will public hotel companies pursue to create shareholder value?"

Jim Burba, one of the organisers of the IHIF will moderate a panel discussing issues such as Why are the penetration rates so much lower in  Europe than in other parts of the world and will timeshare become an integral part of hotel developments in the future?"

For the first time, the IHIF will include a gaming panel, and according to Mark Harms of CIBC World Markets: "There is significant investor interest in the  gaming sector. Recent notable transactions include the sale of Gala Group Plc for a reported price of 1.2 billion to a consortium of private equity funds. These investors believe that this sector has tremendous growth potential, particularly with gaming reform in the UK. John Kelly, CEO of Gala, is one of the panellists."

Anita Roddick, Founder of Bodyshop, will end the conference with a keynote address on how she competed in a "man's world" and created one of the most outstanding retail successes in the last two decades. She will also address business ethics and empowering staff to encourage commitment and loyalty.

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