Nelson F. Migdal, a shareholder and Co-Chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Hospitality Practice and based in the firm's Washington, DC. office. Migdal focuses his practice on hotel acquisitions, operations, development and finance, large mixed-use projects, hotel management agreements, licensing agreements and commercial real estate acquisition and sale.   

Nelson will join the line-up of industry leading speakers participating in the Israel Hotel Investment Summit on the 20th and 21st November. In advance of the event, we talked to Nelson about robots, data mining and the buoyancy of the Israeli hotel market. 

1. As we approach the end of 2019, what are your observations on the hospitality industry during the course of the year? 

Consolidation: The pace of mergers and acquisitions has continued and consolidation in the world of branded hotel operating companies and even third-party management companies will present both challenges and opportunities.  Some recent examples include Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood, the merger of Aimbridge Hospitality and Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Wyndham’s acquisition of La Quinta Holdings, InterContinental’s acquisition of Regency Hotels & Resorts and then Six Senses Hotels & Resorts, Accor Hotel’s acquisition of Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, SBE and 21c Museum Hotels, Fattal Hotels acquisition of Apollo Hotels, Jing Jang’s acquisition of Radisson Holdings and Hyatt’s acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality and Miraval Group. 

Franchising and Collections: Hotel owners now have the potential to retain management of the hotel either directly or through a third-party management company and yet reap the benefit of association with a major brand through use of a “soft brand” or collection, which is essentially a franchise agreement.  Marriott’s Luxury Collection and Autograph Collection now share the market with Hilton’s Curio Collection and Tapestry Collection, Hyatt’s Unbound Collection, and other collections across the industry segments including Red Roof, Best Western and Choice Hotels. 

Labor: The industry needs to attract, train and retain qualified people.  In many markets hotel jobs remain unfilled putting stress on the entire industry and the need to deliver services to hotel patrons and guests.  

2. The industry is experiencing significant change at the moment – the collapse of Thomas Cook, uncertainty around Brexit, changing consumer behavior and an increasing focus on sustainability to name a few. What are your predictions for the international hospitality industry in 2020? 

-Humans or Robots.  As technology advances and hotel jobs remain empty, which tasks and functions will be delegated to technology or robots and which will remain human interactions? 

-Understanding the guest through data mining.  Using data to be able to cater to the millennial traveler as well as the more seasoned traveler. 

-There will continue to be blurring between business travel and leisure travel and hotels will need to be able to accommodate both aspects of the guest experience. 

-Authentic destinations and experiences.  The hotel experience is more than a clean and secure room with a comfortable bed.  Local pop-ups and experiences will be part of the guest stay. 

-Sustainability, particularly as the millennial traveler.  

-Non-hotel accommodations such as OYO, Airbnb and VRBO will pull some leisure and business travel away from the traditional hotel. 

-Responding to increased demand for destinations, experiences and service.  

3. Looking at Israel specifically, what are some of the investment trends in the region? Are you seeing any new owners emerging? 

2018 and 2019 were both record years according to the data compiled by HVS, one of the supporters of the conference.  Continuing government initiatives will draw investment to the entire country, not just Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.   

Israeli based hoteliers will continue to see global players such as Marriott, Six Senses, Nobu, Setai and Accor competing for opportunities and guests. 

Investors based outside of Israel welcome the opportunity to invest in Israeli projects, such as the Jaffa Hotel and its New York based ownership.  

4. What is the professional value of attending events like the forthcoming Israel Hotel Investment Summit (IHIS) in November? 

For Greenberg Traurig and me personally, the Israel hospitality marketplace fits perfectly with our global hospitality practice group and many decades of association with the hospitality industry.  With the consolidation and expansion of the major international brands, such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Four Seasons, Wyndham, Mandarin Oriental, Montage, Aman, Auberge and Nihi, we have found that there is a place in many deals for an international law firm that has already negotiated with the brands and that has years of personal relationships and industry knowledge to draw from.   

Significant and deep industry knowledge is an added value when negotiating the owner/manager relationship in an industry that is unique and behaves very differently from the office, retail or residential models.  The ability to work collaboratively with an owner’s existing team has been proven to be beneficial to the parties and achieving the mutual goals of the parties.  The IHIS event allows us to expand and deepen those important relationships and opportunities.       

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Nelson will be attending the Israel Hotel Investment Summit being held at the Hilton Tel Aviv on the 20th and 21st November 2019. He will be speaking on the International Operators’ Panel: “What can international brands bring to Israel's hotel market?” on Thursday 21st November at 2.00pm.