The first hotel investment conference in the Central and Eastern European and Caucasus region, HOTCO, is to take place in Budapest on January 30-31 at the Hotel Kempinski Corvinus Budapest.
“The event will bring more capital together than ever before to discuss hotel investment activity in the region and those who are funding such capital-heavy investments,” Marius Gomola, managing director of Horwath HTL in both Hungary and Russia, and senior consultant, Attila Radvánszki, told the Budapest Business Journal. “It is a chance to meet the women and men who make hotel investment their passion.”
The conference website, hotconf.com [sic] adds: “As local economies rebound, CEE has the most potential for hotel development and growth in Europe – HOTCO will be a space where hospitality industry members come together to encourage and cultivate such developments.”
Horwath HTL describes itself as the world’s leading hotel, tourism and leisure consultants, and say the Hungarian capital is the perfect host. “We see a tangible shift towards Hungary and Budapest in particular,” Radvánszki says. “The shift is evident in the continuously growing number of visitors from around the globe. We find that despite the slowdown in Europe’s tourism, Central and Eastern Europe performed rather well, with double-digit increases in countries like Hungary.”
The consultants say they believe that the rediscovery of this region has been long overdue, and note that, while at first the primary driver was an undervalued product, that is changing. “The price-value ratio continues to be very favorable despite the slowly increasing prices, which do not seem to discourage visitors, showing the real potential of this destination. Since 2014, the landscape has changed and hotel market indicators started to improve rapidly,” notes Gomola.
Low cost carriers have had a very positive impact on the surge in visitor numbers and a flattening of the traditional seasonality curve, making Budapest a year-round destination, the experts from Horwath HTL say. “Although Budapest might also appear to have lucked out as a rediscovered destination by international media, the reality is that Budapest has done a lot to deserve the attention,” Radvánszki insists. He points to continued infrastructure improvements in the city center and the private-sector funding of quality restaurants, bars and entertainment hubs, which have contributed to Budapest becoming a better overall tourism product. “The city has a multitude of world-class quality cultural events every day, adding to the great value proposition.”
While the Budapest hotel market is strongly based on leisure tourist demand, Gomola and Radvánszki say they see enormous opportunity in the MICE segment. “Located in the center of Europe, while offering a superb value for money proposition, the completion of the 4,000+ capacity congress center is the impetus that will lead to more sell-out nights driven by high-priced travel segments,” says Gomola.
With Budapest hosting a number of sporting events in 2017 (FINA World Championship, handball champions’ league, gymnastics European championship, and Judo world championship, among others), and building a highly successful 2016 in terms of visitors, Horwath HTL warns that the hotel supply will be temporarily limited during the summer months, but notes that this will change in the coming years as 2,000-3,000 new hotel rooms are in the pipeline over the next three to four years.