An outlook of Poland’s luxury hospitality market

As part of its feature on Poland’s luxury market this month, CPP-LUXURY.COM has interviewed Christian Henkemeier, General Manager of InterContinental Hotel in Warsaw, one of the leading five star hotels in Poland.

How has the hotel performed during the first 6 months of 2011, compared to the same period last year? What are your expectations for the rest of 2011?

ICW has been able to further increase its Market Lead and grown RevPar double digit (though the whole luxury market has seen good RevPar improvements to 2010). Whilst the second half of 2010 was rather strong, we expect to maintain this growth through 2011.

To what extent the five star hospitality market in Warsaw has been affected by the international economic downturn? Are there major differences between five star hotels in Warsaw and other cities?

Warsaw and the 5 star internationally branded market here indeed have fared better than most other destination in Poland, and than other segments. We actually have not seen a major impact of the “then” crisis. Other cities however have suffered more. Most was lost in non branded properties.   

What is the profile of your Polish customers? – both accommodation and F&B.

We host in terms of rooms at large guests from the national business community, entrepreneurs and executives as well as delegates attending conferences and visitors from the academic field. However I am happy to say that we also see an increase of individual Polish high end leisure travellers coming to Warsaw. For F&B, the profile is similar, yet of course with a high percentage of Warsawians.    

Which are the top nationalities in your consumer target?

Top, and growing, Polish. This followed by UK citizens, German-speaking, then US.

Which hospitality sector presents the biggest opportunities for growth in the next three years in Warsaw?

I estimate that strongest growth opportunity in terms of hotels is in the budget sector. 

How have you benefited from the promotion of The Year of Chopin? How effective was this campaign?

It was of no noticeable impact that I could see, sorry to say. One should have planned, promoted and conducted this unique event in a much broader scale, much more for the national and international public. However one has to say of course the tragedy in Smolensk made it difficult to “celebrate”.

Does IHG plan any other openings in Poland? (4 and 5 star properties)

Not the InterContinental Brand in the foreseeable future, yet we are looking at opportunities for our Crowne Plaza Brand as well as some Holiday Inns on 4 star level.  

What do you think about the quality of hospitality human resources in Poland ?

One concern is that there is no structured, official educational system for our industry as one finds it for example in Germany. Hotels tend to be the “schooling” for the industry. None the less, I have gotten to know the people I work with as flexible, open to learn, eager and generally hard working. That is a good base. To refine skills drawing from people with international experience though will be required for some time, be they Polish or foreign experts.