With plans to expand services outside the United States in 2015, M3 Accounting + Analytics, the industry’s most widely used accounting, business intelligence, analytics and labor management tools, recently attended the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) in Berlin, Germany. Company President Allen Read and I represented M3 at the international conference, which is similar to the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) and the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference held annually in the United States.
Berlin has come alive in the years since the wall has come down. The city has a new and vibrant feel, is very hospitable. While physical signs of the atrocities committed 70 years ago still remain, the city itself is extremely welcoming. From the days of “Checkpoint Charlie” to thousands “checking in” to the conference, the city has embraced its new democracy and centralized position in the European marketplace.
The IHIF is one of the only places where the hospitality world comes together over a 3-day period. The global industry was well represented in Berlin and the messages shared by speakers, moderators and within various breakout sessions were ones of optimism and excitement. While the industry had an extremely strong year in 2014, the sentiment was the potential for 2015 to be even stronger. With demand high and supply running far behind, this presents a good equation for owners, investors and operators. Smith Travel called the state of the industry “hot” and shared that revPAR in Europe is up about 5% YOY.
The IHIF conference was abuzz about the availability of capital and the excess of liquidity in the system, a topic of interest to the many attendees representing brands, independents, development firms and investors. General consensus stated that is was likely that the market would continue to attract activity, as rates will continue to remain steady until possibly later in 2015, keeping global transaction levels high for at least the next 18 months.
Industry veterans shared the spotlight with new up-and-comers as various opinions were shared about new competitors, such as Airbnb; how technology used by the Millennials or Generation Y guests is affecting the industry; and, the potential impact that global (ex., Greece) and political (ex., Russia and beyond) instability could have on the industry.
M3 is enthusiastic about international opportunities, but also understands that the grass is not always greener on the other side (of the pond). While focus and attention will be placed on developing an international presence later in 2015, our continued vision is focused on deploying a brand new accounting platform, AccKnowledge® 3.0, to the nearly 4,000 individual hotel properties that trust us for their back-office accounting needs each and every day. Because M3 operates without contracts or formal legal agreements, we must work hard to earn and keep our customers business, each and every day. This model has served us well in the United States, and our commitment to always do the right thing will lead our efforts as we begin to move into the international hospitality arena.