LATAM e-News – February 2018
Interview: Glen Champion
Vice President, Bern Hotels & Resorts
1- As an established hotel executive, what is the evolution you observe in hospitality segments in Central America in the last years and what do you think are the trends for the next 5 years?
In the case of Panama, during the last 10 years we have seen an important growth in hotel products. However, the country is not growing enough in number of visitors, creating a market with an oversupply of hotel rooms.
The challenge is to improve promotion of the country in both the leisure and corporate segments. Traditionally Panama has not been very strong in the leisure segment and this is an area with great growth potential. We have noticed that the trend of tour series, cruises and singles is increasing but still have a lot of potential. A new convention center promises to be very attractive for generating more groups and convention businesses.
In general, we have a very positive look for the next five years. Let’s hope that with a continuous promotion of the country we can increase the number of visitors to cover the oversupply of product and see a very healthy market.
2- What do you think are the challenges in Panama for investors?
The challenge is access to funds as banks have become more risk-averse.
3- Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica are leading the regional ranking in tourism quality and sustainability. What are the actions that, in your opinion, BHR has been taking to contribute to this scenario?
At BHR we have been developing hotel infrastructure for the past 20 years by choosing strategic locations where we saw opportunities. We have also been developing our human team among the different companies to strengthen service and business management.
4- Are you planning to invest in hotels in other countries?
At the moment we are concentrating on the Panamanian market.
5- What are the mid-term goals for BHR, one of the biggest hotel groups in Panama?
The goals include increasing business in existing hotels, looking for new markets and strengthening others. In resorts there is enough potential to increase occupations both in high season and even more in low season.
We have a Marriot brand hotel under construction in the city that I think will be open in 2020.
6- How can you describe your participation at Costa Rica Sustainable Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference last November? In your opinion, what is the contribution of this type of conferences to the hospitality industry?
The conference in Costa Rica was rich in content and diversity of participants and I liked the interaction between the actors as well as my participation as a panelist.
I think the importance of this type of conference is that it helps to share knowledge and build relationships between the most important players in the industry.
Glen Champion is Vice President of Bern Hotels & Resorts (BHR) a major hotel, lodging and tourism company in Panama. The group currently has 10 hotels with over 2200 rooms available. The company designs, builds, owns and operates their properties including two Westins, two Crowne Plazas, an InterContinental, a Holiday Inn, a Le Meridien, a Marriott under construction, the independent Gamboa Rainforest Resort as well as Dreams Playa Bonita operated by AM Resorts.
In addition to hotels, BHR owns and operates a DMC and Tour operator, a Property Management Company and The Panama International Hotel School.
Born in Montreal, Canada, Mr. Champion has more than 35 years of experience having worked prior to Panama in Mexico for Conrad and Hyatt hotels as well as in his native Canada for Pan Pacific and Four Seasons hotels.
To contact Glen Champion: firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about BHR visit: bernhotelspanama.com