Bringing the biggest global investment funds in Zagreb – was the brave vision of Marina Franolić, the organizer of the Adria Hotel Forum (AHF), and some would say just let go. How to bring top people from the hotel industry in Europe to Zagreb? How to reach people at all, who are practically impossible to reach in a meeting? There were a lot of questions and challenges in my head, and at the very thought that it could happen, many would wave their hands.But after a few years, in spite of everything and everyone, the Adria Hotel Forum became the largest hotel and investment conference in Southeast Europe and one of the five largest in Europe, and the organizers fulfilled their vision. However, after six years of holding, the AHF is leaving Zagreb and Croatia and will be held in Belgrade next year. The reason, classic Croatian. Lack of interest, both from domestic hotel experts and hoteliers, sponsors and cities, counties and ultimately the State.This relocation realizes the original idea of the Forum that the AHF be organized in all capitals of the region, points out Marina Franolić and adds: ” Our initial idea was for the AHF to “move” and to be held in the capitals of the region, given that it is positioned as a regional conference. So far, we have realized the “regional aspect” through the topics in the program and the panelists who represented the region, but this step is very important for us to further confirm our status. ” Although the official version is of course much milder and different, and certainly as was the long-term intention of the Forum, someone had to write the other side clearly and loudly.By the way, last year alone, investors who manage a total of more than $ 500 billion, as well as vice presidents, managers of global hotel companies, presented themselves in Zagreb, but even that was not enough to show greater interest in both domestic management forces and the state. ultimately who should care about development and what European investors are in her backyard.Every year, European hotel experts come to the AHF, who are otherwise practically impossible or very difficult to reach, and who manage thousands of hotels, monitor the global market and know how the hotel industry will develop in the coming years. We are constantly talking about investments and market development, and when investors come to our door, the door remains closed. Getting their 5 minutes is extremely difficult, and getting them on a “full day” in your backyard is a great opportunity.And I have to admit as conference attendees, every year I wondered how it is possible that there are no our domestic hotel managers. Interest was embarrassingly low, and everyone knew about the conference. You look and you don’t understand what the “handle” is. And so again from year to year. They are here for the investor, they came, and then they need to sell the story, interest them and show them where, how and why to invest in Croatia.But we missed the opportunity. I wonder how many opportunities we need to understand that those who are proactive, brave, think differently, who are fast and agile, and who break down all the barriers in front of them, or at least try, grow and develop. There is no grace in the business world, either you are or you are not.It’s like one start-up among tens of thousands of applications manages to get a chance to present their project and idea on the Shark Thank show in front of multimillionaires and mega entrepreneurship stars, and then doesn’t even bother to sell the story. You had your 5 minutes, but you didn’t use them. Focus and capital go further. So in this case, only without millions of media pomp and audience, and we did not even try to present well, let alone delight them. It’s an opportunity to make a real show and throw “gloves in the face”, so that investors fight among themselves who will be faster and better with the offer.In the meantime, there is no need to worry about it. ”PS By the way, one of the Shark Tank investors was born in Croatia, and he proudly points that out, but the question is whether anyone has ever contacted him.On the other hand, Croatia also had its 5 minutes or 5 years while it is in trend, but the trend lasts 3-5 years, and then the focus of global media and investors turns to new markets. Five years ago, we could only dream that all global tourist media would write about Croatia and advertise us for free, which has been the case for the last few years. Did we take our chance? What message and story did we tell about our tourism and how did we position it?But let’s get back to the topic. Feel free to read the list of panelists and speakers for all six years HERE, and then the logical question arises: How is it possible that most of our hotel experts and managers had no motive to be present and talk live with top experts in the industry.That says a lot about our tourism and our leaders who run it. That says a lot about the business climate in Croatia. Some things are a lot clearer now, right? And then how to succeed and do business in Croatia, if the top people in the profession who keep the budgets and the direction of our tourism are not interested in what European experts will say “cream de le cream”?It’s as if Bill Gates is coming to Zagreb, and the top IT forces are not coming to the conference, or let’s say Philip Kotler, a synonym for marketing, comes and is one of the world’s greatest experts, and 100 people come. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but not much, but you get the point of the story.A couple of years ago, Marina Franolić stated that capital does not go where it is nice, but where the return on investment is most likely. In Croatia, obviously, there is no prospect, and even less interest from our side. It is not this whining, on the contrary, the AHF has fulfilled its mission, brought in European hotel experts as well as investors and investment funds, and brought together the profession at the level of the whole of Europe.Marina Franolić, AHF: We have to be much more aggressive in the market in order to compete for capital that can realistically go anywhere.Unfortunately, there was no real interest, so without whining, and no pomp, she moved on and organized a conference where there is interest. And in this case, it is Serbia and Belgrade.But let’s get back to the topic of investment and whether there is any investor interest at all.On the one hand, investors came to Croatia, which obviously speaks of great interest in investing in Croatia. I was interested in Marina Fanolić’s first-hand opinion and experience, given that she has been in direct contact with them these years.”Yes, there is a much greater interest of foreign investors to invest in Croatia than a couple of years ago. However, the interest is mostly focused on already existing operating hotels (ie acquisitions), and much less on the development of new locations. There are several reasons for this. One of the main ones is that large international “private equity” funds have a limited term that they invest in a location, which is from 5 to 7 years. In that period, it is not realistic that you will start a project in Croatia, get permits, build, put into operation, and then financially stabilize. In Western European countries, there are developers working on this first phase, and investors are entering the phase when the hotel is built and ready for operation. Then 5-7 years makes sense. The second is, of course, the administration for which we are known today, not in a positive sense. There are other reasons, but what is worth emphasizing is that there are still no transactions in which the funds are interested. Franolić points out, and adds that they are in communication with a number of investors on a daily basis, and now some smaller funds and companies that both invest and operate their hotels have shown interest: “But we have to be much more aggressive in the market to compete for capital , can go anywhere. ” says FranolićWe have been talking about Zagreb on the Sava for years and nothing has moved, and in Belgrade some of the buildings have already moved in – Marina FranolićWhen asked what the investment climate is like in Croatia, and what it is like in Belgrade and the region, Franolić points out that Belgrade has recognized the strength of international hotel brands, while in our country it is often heard that brands are expensive.”First of all, it should be taken into account that Belgrade is much bigger than Zagreb. In addition, it has certainly developed more intensively in the last few years and opened up much more to foreign capital. An example is Belgrade on the water. We have been talking about Zagreb on the Sava for years and nothing has moved, and some of the buildings there have already been moved in. In addition, they recognized the strength of international hotel brands. We often hear that brands are expensive, but it’s not just a matter of price. Namely, the strength of the brand is in international visibility. When a brand like Accor, InterContinental and Hilton announces the news through their channels to open a new hotel, it is much more powerful than any individual hotelier can achieve. A good example is DoubleTree in Zagreb, whose owners are now opening two more hotels (Canopy opened 10 days ago, and the Garden Inn will next year) and which have contracted the Hilton brand for everything. In addition to raising the value of the hotel, the brand also raises the value of the destination.”Pointed out Franolić and concluded that the Adria Hotel Forum represents the entire region every year, so in 2019 in Belgrade will be one of the topics the return of Turkey, Greece and North Africa and their impact on tourism in the Adriatic and Mediterranean.Adria Hotel Forum 2019 under the slogan “Is the future bright?”But either way, the AHF goes further. The only internationally recognized hotel-investment conference in the region, Adria Hotel Forum (AHF), will be held 20-21. February in Belgrade at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.The theme of the seventh AHF is “Is the future bright?“, And will touch on the issues of the new financial crisis forecast for 2020, compare the bureaucracy that investors face in the countries of the region and other competing countries, and examine what projects are in focus for investors. In its six years of existence, the Adria Hotel Forum has positioned itself as one of the five largest investment conferences in Europe, bringing together over 1.800 participants, 250 panelists and 150 partners. The importance of the Forum is also proven by the arrival of world names of the hotel industry who visit our region only because of this conference. This year, the Forum brought to Zagreb more than $ 500 billion in investment funds, AccorHotels’ senior vice president of development for Europe, Hilton’s vice president of development for Eastern Europe and Belmond’s senior vice president for global development.Along with representatives of global hotel companies, investors and consultants, the ministers of several regional countries have already confirmed their arrival in Belgrade. Take advantage early bird prices that are open until December 7, and more information can be found on our official site.