Northern Ireland: IHM [International Hospitality Media] took its annual Recharge event to Belfast in Northern Ireland for its sixth edition, this time hosted at ‘hometel’ room2 Belfast.
Recharge is an in-person event that relocates every year to a different European city. It is hosted by IHM, the publisher of four B2B hospitality and real estate media brands: Boutique Hotel News; Serviced Apartment News; ShortTermRentalz; and Urban Living News.
The curated event has previously been hosted in Lisbon, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam, welcoming urban innovators at the cutting edge of contemporary hospitality, real estate and living to challenge the status quo.
Day One kicked off with a lunch hosted at the Riverside Restaurant Hilton Belfast, and attendees were then split into two groups for walking tours around some of the most ground-breaking hospitality and real estate venues in the capital. The property tours began at The Regency and Crescent One [serviced residences and a meetings and events venue] in the heart of Belfast’s Queen’s Quarter, before moving on to Wilton House Belfast [serviced residences] and Urban HQ [coworking, flexible office workspaces], culminating with a gathering at the renowned Crown Liquor Saloon.
Day Two started on a high note as some attendees braved the Belfast rain for a ‘Precharge’ 5k run around the city, while others took the drier option of loose leaf tea tasting at room2 to invigorate themselves ahead of a packed day of networking and content sessions.
Following a welcome address from IHM CEO Piers Brown and editor-in-chief, George Sell, Rechargers were treated to a keynote speech from Belfast City Council’s Kathy Reynolds, discussing investment, infrastructure and regeneration in the city centre. In her talk, Reynolds outlined the scale of Belfast’s ambition, from delivering 31,000+ new homes to increasing its population by 66,000 people by 2035 to create a more “attractive, accessible, safe and vibrant city”.
The momentum continued as Crowe Ireland’s Weldon Mather hosted an investment and development session with Justin Quirk [Wilton House Belfast], Guy Hollis [Guvin Investments Ltd] and John McDonald [GRAHAM Investment Projects Ltd], highlighting the challenges and opportunities they were facing in buying, funding and delivering real estate across the living and hospitality sectors.
Stuart Godwin, managing director of room2 hometels and Lamington Group, delivered his vision for how room2 became the first whole-life net zero carbon hotel brand and disclosed the company’s plans for becoming even more efficient and sustainable. The latest room2 venue [our Recharge venue] only opened in October 2023, and Godwin explained the brand’s commitment to carbon offsetting, zero waste, guest and employee wellbeing, and more.
The Property Marketing Strategists co-founder Sarah Canning gave a standout presentation on what Gen Z want from their next home, including how the demographic is increasingly valuing stable internet over safety and security in their properties. That preceded a conversation on ‘Revitalising cities’ through building multi-use multi-tenure urban centres, hosted by IHM’s George Sell and including Suzanne Wylie [Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry], Iain Murray [Cortland Consult] and Anthony Kieran [Aurient Investments].
After the lunch break, Ryandeep Bains from STR shared insights into the latest hotel room rates, average daily rates [ADRs] and occupancy data across the world, including the ‘Taylor Swift effect’ in the United States, and further indicators for when she arrives in Dublin for her Eras tour in June 2024.
Maintaining the theme of community, collaboration and debate, ShortTermRentalz editor Paul Stevens moderated a panel on flexible living and the future of apartment buildings, delving into ESG, design and technology with Dave Cordner [Central Belfast Apartments], Adam Dale [Charles Hope Apartments] and Keith Somers [Lioncor].
James Eyre gave attendees the inside track on Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, one of Europe’s largest urban waterfront regeneration projects. Among the notable takeaways, it was revealed that more than £618 million had already been invested in the Titanic Quarter and over 20,000 people are visiting, living, working, or staying in the area on Belfast’s Maritime Mile every day [with 3.6 million visitors each year].
The second day concluded with an afternoon ‘happy hour’ featuring local gin tasting, while T5 Strategies managing director Sean Worker led a lively proptech challenge in which attendees were split into teams and tasked with inventing a proptech offer and presenting a new concept for the Titanic Quarter.
All Recharge presentations can be downloaded at our Recharge event website here. A big thank you as well to Charles Hope, Corporate Housing Factory, IMS, ServicedApartments.nl, room2, Visit Belfast, and the UKAA for supporting our 2024 event.
Recharge will return in 2025 – stay tuned on IHM social channels for upcoming announcements on our next host city.
Brendan Geraghty, CEO, UKAA: “I really enjoyed Recharge and thought the content was of a very high standard, as was the whole event. Thank you to you and your team for putting on a fabulous event.”
Aubrey Calderwood, managing director, Gateley Capitus: “I just wanted to say thank you to you and your team for organising Recharge. We were all agreed that it was probably the best real estate and networking event that we have been to, and it was great to hear so many positive plans for Belfast.”
Mathilde Le Villain, founder and design director, LA VILLAINE: “It’s my second year attending RECHARGE and I have enjoyed it as much as last year. It was great reconnecting with all the lovely and lively old faces and meeting up new ones. Experiencing some of the best of Belfast living spaces and the varied panel of talks makes it worthwhile as we receive a pure condense of knowledge and information over two days.”
Adam Dale, Group COO, Charles Hope Apartments: “Always a great opportunity to network with key decision makers and local specialists in new or existing markets!”
Iain Murray, senior director BTR consultancy [Europe], Cortland Consult: “I think Recharge is one of the most interactive and interesting events I’ve been to for some time. Made new friends and business contacts. Loved it.
Alison Reid, partner, Gateley Legal: “Recharge 2024 in Belfast was thought-provoking, inspirational and simply brilliant! When you get a group of like-minded professionals in a room great things can happen. The buzz and friendliness of this year’s event was excellent. Well done IHM team! And thank you to all of the hosts and sponsors.”