Event review: IHM RECHARGE 2020, Barcelona
Spain: Hospitality and real estate professionals from around Europe braved the might of Storm Gloria for the third staging of International Hospitality Media’s uniquely collaborative RECHARGE event, this time in Barcelona.
Hosted at Bellucci Studios, a former film studio where the likes of Pedro Almodóvar got their careers off the ground, the 2020 RECHARGE built on the previous editions of the event in Amsterdam and Berlin, with a great atmosphere of collaboration and co-operation.
RECHARGE Day One offered the opportunity for attendees to take part in a property tour with a varied and eclectic itinerary. Starting off at YAYS Sagrera serviced apartments, the respective groups made their way around Torre del Governador towards the north of Barcelona, an expansive derelict castle which is being converted into a luxury hotel, co-working space Onecowork and finally SafeStay, a hostel in a former apartment building just off the Placa Catalunya. The day ended with a lively drinks and tapas party to mark the end of the tours before the more intrepid RECHARGERS braved the weather once more for a final nightcap drink ahead of Day Two.
Though the rain and wind were not about to subside, attendees gathered in the warm surroundings of Bellucci Studios the morning after and spirits remained high among the RECHARGERS. IHM CEO and event host, Piers Brown, welcomed everyone present with the promise that they would get more from the event the more that they actively participated in the sessions and so that proved to be the case.
Brown also announced the destination of the 2021 RECHARGE event – Staycity’s Paris — Marne la Vallée property [on 25-26 January 2021].
Brown and former BridgeStreet CEO Sean Worker, now leading T5 Strategies [as managing director and principal] and based in Barcelona, then led a session on how confronting and overcoming fear can lead to greater success in business.
The first of the collaborative sessions then followed – entitled The future of cities, the future of real estate. RECHARGERS grabbed a Bloody – or Virgin – Mary and joined the group which most interested them.
Hosted by SAN editor George Sell, the workshop featured the following topics:
• Mobility hosted by Tzvete Doncheva, PR and ecosystem, Round Hill Ventures
• Space-as-a-service hosted by Jacob Wedderburn-Day, CEO and co-founder, Stasher
• The sharing economy: Vanessa de Souza Lage, CMO, Rentals United
• Distributed enterprise (tech) – Stephen Lowy, CEO, Anglo Educational Services
• All-inclusive living – Gerard Greene, CEO and founder, Society
• Co-working – Scott Mackin, COO, one co work
The buzz in the room was palpable as RECHARGERS shared their knowledge and ideas, before the leaders shared each group’s key ideas and findings with the room.
One of the highlights of the day from a short-term rental perspective was a debate over the hybrid master hospitality lease model, with the motion that the model “maximises owner profitability more than a standard management contract”. Paul Stevens, news editor of ShortTermRentalz, proposed the motion, citing Domio CEO Jay Roberts‘ claim that there is around US$2 trillion of “dry powder” floating around waiting to be deployed in to suitable investments, much like what is being injected into Sonder in the form of hefty funding rounds. He also argued that innovation in hospitality and real estate was a good thing, as former Airbnb CFO Laurence Tosi had called corporate housing “boring”, and that serious businesses such as Airbnb were now getting involved with the master lease model, pinpointing the company as now that is building itself as a tech service following its $160 million partnership with Lyric.
In opposition, Stephen Smit of YAYS was particularly sceptical of the master lease firms’ claims to be technology companies – “they are not technology companies, they are real estate operators”, he said.
After some lively discussion among the audience, the session was declared a score draw, with each side gaining a point apiece.
The session was also a follow up to our piece in September, “The master lease model: is the bubble about to burst”, which gained significant traction across the short-term rental industry and highlighted a contentious topic facing the hospitality and real estate sectors with the recent fall from grace of WeWork.
Following the lunch break, Alex Robinson from STR and AirDNA [whose European base is in Barcelona] chief revenue officer Tom Caton provided a speed overview of Spanish and European hospitality and real estate performance, with the latter of particular interest for the short-term rental market and data trends.
Caton opened by referring to Europe’s top increasing revenue markets as Batumi [Georgia, up by 28.5 per cent], Bordeaux [France, up by 8.9 per cent], Venice [Italy, up by 6.6 per cent] , Naples [Italy, up by 4.7 per cent] and Marbella [Spain, 3.1 per cent]. Conversely, the cities of Budva [Montenegro], Varna [Bulgaria], Dubrovnik [Croatia] and Cannes [France] topped the list of Europe’s decreasing revenue markets for 2020.
The other essential takeaways from Caton’s presentation were:
- “If you want a short-term rental in Barcelona, you need a time machine”: regulation in the city is very tight and you cannot just buy an apartment and turn it into a short-term rental.
- Occupancy of short-term rentals in Barcelona between November 2018 and November 2019 is down by one per cent but booked entire place listings grew by 17 per cent.
- Niido is an “interesting” market in that it is “Airbnb-friendly” and you can put institutional capital into it to help retain a short- and long-term balance of a portfolio.
- What would a potential recession mean to short-term rentals? Casual hosts will decide to rent out second homes, creating an “explosion” in supply and apartment operators will go on to have more unused inventory. More travellers will opt for short-term rentals over other alternative accommodations and the business travel segment will also look towards rentals as a viable option.
- Airbnb is trying hard to make “quasi-serviced apartments” as these are experiencing more traction than ever before.
The Day Two RECHARGE sessions concluded with HoCoSo chairman Jonathan Humphries leading a collective, collaborative workshop with the end goal to create a “totally unique co-living experience”. Attendees again divided themselves into groups and fed back ideas to their group leaders, who then reported back to the entire room to summarise the collective thoughts.
The focus group topics were:
• Investor considerations, hosted by Lissa Engle, founder and managing director, Berkeley Capital Group
• Room design hosted by Janice Mitten, partner, head of business development, Dexter Moren Associates
• Services and operations hosted by Jouke Baaima, director and co-owner at ServicedApartments.nl and Corporate Housing Factory.
• Public spaces hosted by Jan Garde, founder and chairman, THE EMBASSIES OF GOOD LIVING
• Networks in the neighbourhood hosted by Peter Heule, managing director, Yays
• Technology and distribution hosted by Satyan Joshi, Hotel ads business leader, Google
• Healthy buildings and sustainability hosted by Roger Allen, Group CEO, RLA
The conclusions from the workshop session will be edited and condensed into an article co-authored by the group leaders, which will be available on our sister site, Serviced Apartment News, in due course.
A prize draw was enlivened by Stasher co-founder Jacob Wedderburn-Day plunging in to the venue’s [very cold!] swimming pool in order to win a two-night stay at a YAYS property! Piers Brown then wrapped up proceedings by thanking the collective for their energy and contributions which had undoubtedly helped to create a memorable and successful event.
To see speaker presentations from RECHARGE 2020 click here.
RECHARGE event feedback:
“Amazing talent all gathered together, and interesting solutions for the future of the industry.”
Inmaculada Ranera, managing director Spain and Portugal, Christie & Co
“A great event format with highly relevant interaction.”
Maxime Dubois, director of development Southern Europe, Adagio Aparthotels
“Always a great networking event and good to reconnect with old friends. Great organisation as usual.”
Jeff Swanson, managing director EMEA, Intelity
“Great content, inspiring discussion, unique venue and format.”
Scott Macklin, CEO, OneCoWork
“One of the best events I’ve been to – hats off guys, it was great!”
Jacob Wedderburn-Day, CEO, Stasher
“It was great to be at such an intimate event and really get to have meaningful conversations with people. I learnt a lot.”
Steve Lowy, CEO, Anglo Educational Services and The Residence Apartments