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China Hotel Investment Conference 2015

Organised by HVS, the world’s leading hotel and hospitality consulting firm, and co-hosted by China Tourism Academy and Beijing International Studies University, the 11th annual China Hotel Investment Conference (CHIC) witnessed a turnout of over 450 delegates.

Themed 'The New Normal: Rethinking China’s Growth Story', the event took place from 12 to 14 May 2015 at Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai, bringing together hospitality and tourism leaders from over 12 countries. Distinguished speakers included Manav Thadani, Chairman – Asia Pacific, HVS; Dai Bin, President, China Tourism Academy; Cao Weidong, President, Beijing International Studies University; Gerald Lawless, President and Group Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group; Li Feng, Deputy General Manager, Guangzhou Lingnan International Enterprise Group, Co., Ltd cum Chairman, LN Hospitality Management; Zhang Jianming, Chairman and President, Minyoun Group; Qian Jiannong, Vice President, Fosun Group cum President, Fosun Tourism and Commercial Group; David Cheng, President, Wanda Hotels and Resorts Co., Ltd; Tu Jianping, Vice-President Assistant, Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co., Ltd cum General Manager, Wanda Hotel Investment & Development Co., Ltd, to name a few.

Held in conjunction with the renaming of HVS’ Chinese name, the conference kicked off with a spectacular lion dance performance. After the opening performance, Manav Thadani, Chairman – Asia Pacific, HVS officially announced the company’s new Chinese name as 'Hao Wei Sheng' (豪威盛), and performed ‘eye dotting’ on the lion costume together with Daniel Voellm, Managing Partner of HVS Asia Pacific, Dai Bin, President of China Tourism Academy, and Cao Weidong, President of Beijing International Studies University, to herald the opening of the event. This was followed by an opening address by Manav Thadani, Chairman – Asia Pacific, HVS and a keynote speech by Gerald Lawless, President and Group Chief Executive Officer of Jumeirah Group.

The hot topics for this conference included the two sessions titled 'Development and Master Planning of Wellness Communities' and 'Hotel Investment: An Expert Insight on Overseas Deals, Mergers & Acquisitions' at the complimentary pre-conference workshop; the official updates on 'The Evolution of China Tourism Industry' from the National Development and Reform Commission; the discussion of 'Global Leaders Check-In' led by Manav Thadani, Chairman – Asia Pacific, HVS; the discussion of 'Gen Y Brands for the Gen Next Travellers' led by Judy Hou, Chief Executive Officer of Glion Institute of Higher Education; the discussion of 'Big Data – Young Generation Travel Focus' and 'Online Travel Agencies (OTAs): Customer Behavior and Trends' presented by Qunar.com and Elong, respectively; the discussion of 'Investing in China: Exploring New Opportunities' led by Dai Bin, President of China Tourism Academy; 'The Billion Dollar Challenge: Putting Your Best Bet Forward' led by Kenneth Rhee, Chief Representative of Urban Land Institute, Mainland China cum Chief Executive Officer of Huhan Advisory; and the concluding session, 'CHIC Work Fry'.

Thorsten Kirschke, President – Asia Pacific, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Martin Rinck, President of Asia Pacific Hilton Worldwide, Jiang De, President of Steigenberger (Beijing) Hotel Management Co., Ltd cum Chief Development Officer of Steigenberger Hotel Group, and David Cheng, President of Wanda Hotels and Resorts Co., Ltd were invited to attend the session of 'Global Leaders Check-In' led by Manav Thadani, Chairman – Asia Pacific, HVS. As the hospitality market in China heralds the next upswing, paving the path for renewed growth, these industry leaders shared their thoughts and insights into the current prospects and future outlook for the China hotel industry, and their companies' growth plans, strategic vision and roadmap for the future.

One of the major highlights of the conference this year was the interactive session titled ''The Billion Dollar Challenge: Putting Your Best Bet Forward', which posed an interesting scenario to the speakers on how they would spend USD1 billion reasonably to maximise their return on investment. Diverse proposals were contributed by the panelists during the brainstorming session, ranging from investing in domestic markets to international destinations. Audience interaction was also strong as the delegates participated actively by asking questions. This panel was led by Kenneth Rhee, Chief Representative of Urban Land Institute, Mainland China cum Chief Executive Officer of Huhan Advisory. Chen Min, Deputy General Manager of Hotel Division of COFCO Land Holdings Limited, presented his ideas on inflation-proof investment and hotel investment utilising the USD1 billion fund. He has divided the hotel investment into three parts: one-third of the fund will be channeled towards the development of tourist hotels in his preferred destination, Hainan; the second part will target business hotels in first- and second-tier cities, whereas the remaining one-third will focus on the investment of unique Chinese-style hotels in overseas destinations. Qian Jiannong, Vice President of Fosun Group cum President of Fosun Tourism and Commercial Group, quoted the group's recent investment and merger and acquisition activities as examples (in which the group has successfully acquired Club Med, a French tourist and leisure hotel group, in 2014, and invested in Thomas Cook, a British leisure and travel group, in 2015), to provide the delegates with a more in-depth analysis on his investment proposals. Tu Jianping, President Assistant of Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co., Ltd cum General Manager of Wanda Hotel Investment & Development Co., Ltd, also shared his investment plans with the delegates through two real-life cases, namely the Hengqin Healthcare Resort in Zhuhai which adopts a whole-industry-chain approach (comprising a cluster of hotels built along the coastline, to offer a full-service functional resort destination for health and wellness retreats which are complemented with Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies) and the White Mountain Resort (a mixed-use resort development integrating leisure, entertainment and resort components, which includes a ski field, a golf course, hotels, hot springs and commercial and leisure facilities). This exciting session, as was anticipated, led to a high level of audience engagement.

While China’s economy and tourism consumption are embarking on a new normal development path, how to create new opportunities in the current macro environment has become the most pondered question among the industry players. Hence, it has undoubtedly attracted a full house when Dai Bin, President of China Tourism Academy moderated the session 'Investing in China: Exploring New Opportunities'. The panelists of this session included Wang Haijun, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Atour Hotel, John McLean Kidd, President of HNA Hospitality Group, Li Feng, Deputy General Manager of Guangzhou Lingnan International Enterprise Group Ltd cum Chairman of LN Hospitality Management, Zhang Jianming, Chairman of Minyoun Group, Robin Shen, Former Vice President of Shimao Group, and Shi Yangqing, Founder and Chief Operation Officer of Zhuyou Hotels Group (Pod Inns). The top leaders from these six hotel groups presented insightful opinions on the future trends in hotel industry by sharing their respective corporate strategies in light of the current market environment. They also shared a unanimous view that with China's hotel market continuing its steady pace of transformation, the worst is over and the best is coming soon!

During the event, the CHIC Organising Committee and Advisory Board, together with senior industry executives across the region, recognised outstanding individuals and firms for their contribution to the industry this year, by presenting the following awards:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award of Hotel Industry – Gerald Lawless, President and Group Chief Executive Officer, JumeirahGoup
  • China Hotelier of the Year –Ji Qi, Founder and Chairman, Huazhu Hotels Group Ltd
  • Hotel Development Excellence Award – Wanda Hotel Investment & Development Co., Ltd
  • China Hospitality Excellence Award – Vienna Hotels Group
  • International Hospitality Excellence Award – Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

The CHIC Organising Committee, led by Manav Thadani, Chairman – Asia Pacific, HVS, expressed their heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to all partners, sponsors, delegates and participants for their continuous support in making this event yet another success. The Organising Committee looks forward to welcoming industry leaders to the 12th CHIC in 2016.

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