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The BIG Interview: Helder Pereira, CEO, Redefine BDL Hotels

Jerome Smail 14 March 2015
The BIG Interview: Helder Pereira, CEO, Redefine BDL Hotels

Helder Pereira, CEO of Redefine BDL Hotels, discusses the future for his company and the challenges ahead for the hotel industry as the pace of change continues to increase

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to your current role?
I was managing director of Southern Sun Hotels and executive director of Tsogo Sun Holdings – listed in the JSE and the largest hotel and gaming company in South Africa, with just under 100 hotels.

I left Africa to start up Redefine and acquired the Splendid portfolio of hotels in December 2010, which was one of the largest hotel transactions that year in a very quiet market.

In 2013, Redefine Hotels acquired BDL Management and I became CEO of the newly formed Redefine BDL Hotels. In 2014, Redefine BDL was successful in its bid to manage the core hotels of LRG Acquisition Ltd, and the company is today the fifth largest hotel management company in the UK and Ireland.

What do you find most challenging about your job?
Retaining good people and ensuring best-in-class performance.

What is the best part of your job?
Dealing with our staff – the industry is full of dedicated people who live for this industry.

What do you see as the most important elements in developing Redefine BDL further?
Redefine BDL will need to show investors that it can deliver sustainable performance on any hotel asset it manages. To do this we need a culture of transformation and boldness – and therefore we need the ability to attract and retain good people.

Have you noticed any hotel trends emerging this year?
Not new trends but rather the pace of change is accelerating. The managing of hotels’ bedroom stock through multiple distribution channels is going to be key to maintaining margins.

There is also a trend towards lifestyle-type hotel brands but this will take many years to have critical distribution due to planning and difficulty in finding good locations.

In general, how do you think the hotel industry is performing at the moment?
The industry is in a good place, with London expecting a record year and the provinces showing strong growth on the back of a good UK economic recovery.

How do you see the future for the hotel industry?
It will continue to perform well relative to other asset classes as tourism worldwide expands and new developing markets acquire the means to travel. However, the industry will need to discover the means to make it relevant to these new markets as well as the new upcoming generation of consumers.

What are your main marketing goals for the next year with Redefine BDL?
To drive business to the hotels we manage, to position the company in the investor community and to maintain close relations with our current owners.

What are the plans for Redefine BDL in the future?
To consolidate its recent management contracts and then look at expanding into mainland Europe.