Hotel consultants can help brands succeed. James Wrenn, associate director of Colliers International, dissects the different areas of this key industry service.
Hotel consulting is a wide-ranging discipline that focuses on providing advisory services to clients across four key service lines: development advisory (feasibility studies, operator selection/negotiation); agency (sale and purchase of assets); valuation; and asset management.
Hotel consultants often practice across the main service lines but specialisms are common; for example in asset management or valuation. Market dynamics also dictate the demand for services. In more developed markets such as those in Europe and North Africa, agency is very prominent, whereas in the Middle East it is development advisory that is the primary focus for most hotel consultants, given the prominence of new hotel developments in the region.
Typically, hotel consultants come from a hospitality or real estate background. Many hotel consultants studied hospitality at degree level then gained property operational experience to pivot across to consulting. Consultants with a real estate background are also prominent in the sector, many of whom studied real estate at undergraduate or post-graduate level and chose to specialize in the area over more traditional commercial property sectors, such as offices or retail. Most of the large international real estate service firms, including Colliers, have dedicated hotel and leisure consulting teams competing in the industry, alongside singular-focused global hospitality practices and independent boutique firms.
There are many undergraduate and postgraduate courses that provide exposure to hotel consulting and real estate advisory. For more experienced practitioners, there are a number of professional accreditations and bodies that hotel consultants are often members of. Consultants from a real estate background tend to be accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), especially those with valuation and agency specialisms. Consultants in the asset management space often seek accreditation from the Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA).
For those considering a career as a hotel consultant, an obvious requirement is a passion for hospitality and tourism, together with a strong appreciation for the built environment. Willingness to travel for work is a prerequisite and the ability to manage tight deadlines is par for the course.