Thursday, June 13, 2024

Delivering Stories of Progress


Filinvest leads industry leaders in the Asia CEO Real Estate Forum 2021

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Hotel Okura Manila
Hotel 101
The Manor at Camp John Hay
Novotel Manila
Taal Vista Hotel
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From left, Vince Lawrence Abejo Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of Filinvest Land and James Montenegro – Country Manager of Chroma Hospitality

The event explored how pundits continue to navigate the pandemic, as well as new market trends and consumer behaviors in the next normal

The “next normal” would see a vastly different real estate industry, one that struggled to find a solid footing during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, but one that would eventually find a way to emerge through all the challenges and come out the other end stronger than ever.

That’s the collective sentiment during the recently concluded Asia CEO Real Estate Forum, which saw industry leaders talk about how they navigated the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the latest market trends and consumer behaviors stakeholders should watch out for in a post-pandemic world.

“With the survival experience acquired during the last 21 months, we now find ourselves more prepared and capable of sustaining business growth. In Filinvest, our ability to work together made us more resilient and our employee’s sense of family made the challenging days feel easier,” said Tristan Las Marias, EVP and chief strategy officer at Filinvest Land Inc.

Las Marias is one of the key people from Filinvest who shared their expertise during the Asia CEO Real Estate Forum. They take the lead in putting together industry thought leaders to paint a picture of what the landscape would look like in the near future.

The COVID-19 pandemic, Las Marias said, is by far the biggest crisis that Filinvest has come across in the 66 years it has been in business. The uncertainties of the situation tested their resolve. But thanks to a combination of diversification strategies and financial prudence, Filinvest managed to thrive in a very challenging situation.

Learning that survival is a partnership, Las Marias said that their readiness and capability to survive the next disruption would now be a combination of technology and people. The group’s balanced presence geographically was a critical strategic factor that helped them rebound faster.

Another speaker in the Asia CEO Real Estate Forum is James Montenegro, the country manager for Chroma Hospitality, which operates the hotel brands of the Filinvest group—Crimson Hotels and Resorts + Quest Hotels.

During the pandemic—and in the new age of travel, Montenegro said his team had to learn how to recalibrate, recover, and rebuild. To recover, they had to look after their people, while making sure business stays afloat. To recover, they kept innovating ahead of the expected changes in travel behavior. To rebuild, they to had to quickly strategize and push out digital campaigns that were relatable to a market that was on lockdown.

“We saw the challenges we went through as opportunities to push ourselves further and learn more about our guests, their needs, and the best ways we can keep them safe. It was during these hard times that we truly got to live out our company slogan—Driven Hospitality, which we achieved by working and rising together,” Montenegro said.

Maricel Brion-Lirio, president and CEO of Filinvest REIT Corp., (FILRT)  also took the stage in the online event. She talked about how companies in the Philippines specifically FILRT have already adopted a more human-centric approach in addressing the ill effects of the pandemic, as well as the importance of gaining locator confidence, among many others.

“To continue the steady pace of recovery, especially in the real estate industry, it is important to gain back the confidence of global locators. We must also aggressively pursue sustainable green and digital initiatives, so we can ensure the business longevity of all stakeholders. The key in gaining locator confidence is by crafting a solid strategy that highlights the key strengths of the facility which our office buildings in FILRT have,” she said.

Among the speakers who also took the virtual stage and shared their knowledge on real estate include Michael McCullough, CEO of KMC group; Arthur Tugade, secretary of Department of Transportation; Rosemarie Ong, senior executive vice president and CEO of Wilcon Depot; and Jun Palafox, principal architect and Urban Planner at Palafox Associates.

The rest of the roster of expert speakers during the forum include Dr. Bernie Villegas, economist and professor of the University of Asia and the Pacific; Joey Radovan, vice chairman of JLL Philippines; Joshua Bingcang, SVP of Business Development & Operations of Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA); Rosie Tsai, chairman of the Board of Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA); and David Rafael, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aboitiz Land.

Vince Abejo, chief sales and marketing officer of Filinvest Land, who opened and closed the program, said he would refer to this period as a “test of resilience, leadership, and community” because when various industry players needed to come together as one, they did—and continue to do so.

“Almost two years after the COVID-19 first hit our country, the story is now different. We, at Filinvest, are definitely more optimistic about the near future. The narrative is flushed with anecdotes of business rebound as more people are traveling and mobility has returned and is slowly stirring economic activities,” Abejo said.

The overarching theme and collective sentiments of the Asia CEO Real Estate Forum reflect the vision of Josephine Gotianun Yap, the president and CEO of Filinvest, in wanting to enhance and enrich the lives of Filipinos.

“We started our sustainable business back in 2017 when sustainability wasn’t such big of a buzzword as it is today. But I felt it was the right way to go. The real sustainability projects that companies should go into are the ones that make financial sense, so it’s a win-win situation for all shareholders. We are optimistic about the future of real estate in the country in 2022 and the coming years,” Yap said.

The challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic remains. And the only way to address these as explored in the Asia CEO Real Estate Forum is the same way the industry has always addressed them in the past—together.

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