HB ON THE SCENE: SAHIC 2014 Presents Opportunities in South America

QUITO, ECUADOR—More than 300 delegates from 30 countries gathered at this year’s South American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (SAHIC) here beginning Monday, Sept. 15.

Arturo Garcia Rosa, president and founder of SAHIC, stated that 44% of the new projects underway in South America are focused on the mid-market segment. Rosa shared his observations regarding increased interest for new developments in secondary cities throughout the region and more transactions reflecting the maturity process.    

Rosa also emphasized that the region has tremendous ecological natural resources, and the hospitality industry in South America should contribute to protecting the natural resources to keep tourism as a vibrant economic sector for the continent.

Several executives from the global chains gave their insight into the growing middle class in South America, presenting opportunities for their midscale brands. In particular, Joel Eisemann, chief development officer of the Americas, IHG, emphasized the importance of building relationships with local partners and understanding the needs of the market and Latin American traveler. IHG plans to open a 287-room InterContinental hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, scheduled to open during the first quarter of 2015. 

David P. Berg, COO of Carlson, shared at a press conference during SAHIC that the company has found success in Brazil because of the partnerships the company has in that country. Carlson is planning to duplicate this model with a pending agreement in Chile for a multi-unit partnership with Park Inn by Radisson, and in other countries as well, Berg added. The new Radisson Red, a lifestyle select brand catered to the millennial-minded customer will be a focus for the region.

Ted Middleton, SVP of Development of The Americas for Hilton Worldwide commented that the organization plans to open nearly 40 hotels and resorts in Latin America by the end of 2016, increasing its portfolio in the region by approximately 60% within the next two years. Middleton added that 75% of this new development is with the Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton brands.

Roland de Bonadona, CEO of Accor for the Americas and the Caribbean, stated that joining the existing 230 hotels and 170 secured in the pipeline for South America, Accor will operate 400 hotels in the region in 170 cities by the end of 2018.

Eric Danziger, the new president and CEO of Hampshire Hotels Management, delivered the conference’s keynote address on Tuesday, Sept. 16. He discussed his humble beginnings in the hotel industry and his strategy for building successful hotel companies. “I love to see people prosper,” he said. “I want to help people become better than what they can be.” Danziger was also awarded with the SAHIC Inspirational Hospitality Icon Award 2014.

In SAHIC’s host city, tourism has significantly increased. While international tourism has grown 4.6% around the world from January through today, Quito has seen a 14% increase during the same period, according to Luz Elena Coloma, general manager of Quito Turismo.

The mayor of Quito, Mauricio Rodas Espinel, highlighted Quito’s most recent accomplishments such as the declaration as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO) site, South America’s Leading Destination 2013 and 2014 by the World Travel Awards, and a candidate to be one of the Seven Cities/Wonders of the World.