What makes conversion so attractive in the current European hotel landscape?

January 7, 2020

In a European hotel real estate market characterized by challenge and opportunity, the trend towards conversion represents an increasingly attractive growth space for both developers and hoteliers alike.

To me, there are five key benefits of the conversion model; spend, speed, support, stability and sustainability. This powerful mix drives the growing success of hotel conversion. And that’s why we’re seeing such growth with voco™, our newest upscale brand, focused on conversions. The brand is just 18 months old, but we have already signed around 30 deals in total.

A guest room converted by voco.
A guest room converted by voco. Nelsonphotos

Conversion—an opportunity for growth

We continue to see a strong pipeline of new build development, but we know investors are looking for a range of investment options, which is where conversions come in. Distinctive, adaptable conversion brands such as voco play in a new space where owners and investors of strong independent hotels can move fast with a conversion for a smaller financial outlay than a new build and focus on achieving stronger returns at pace. We also know many guests are looking for stays in unique hotels with real character or heritage; but that doesn’t mean they will accept a lower quality product or inconsistent experiences. We know many hotel owners are proud of what they have accomplished but that they could achieve so much more with a quick conversion route to a stronger brand, scale and systems.

Small changes, big impact

voco is designed with these things in mind. Small changes that make a big impact; focused investment in areas that drive the greatest commercial gain. We do this by making the most of a hotel’s individual character and style, and taking it to the next level with vibrant design and consistent service, and leveraging IHG’s powerful systems and trusted expertise. There’s a strong sustainability ethos too—in reducing the need for large refurbishments, a conversion is instead choosing to tread more lightly. The opportunity is significant with The European Travel Commission reporting international tourist arrivals in Europe up 3.4% in 2018. In the competitive but growing tourism industry, conversions make strategic sense now more than ever. Based on the success of voco, we know there are plenty of people out there ready to be converted.

Willemijn Geels

Vice President Development Europe