HFE 2023 Highlights Singapore

October 31, 2023 •

4 min reading

Highlights from the 7th Hospitality Finance & Economics Conference

Written by

Dr Masaki Mori shares highlights from the 7th Hospitality Finance & Economics Conference jointly organized by NUS Institute of Real Estate & Urban Studies and EHL Hospitality Business School.

HFE 2023, the highly anticipated academic conference, provided an engaging platform for researchers, industry experts and thought leaders to explore the latest advancements and insights in the fields of hospitality and real estate. This two-day event, held this summer in Singapore, featured a diverse range of activities, including research paper presentations, panel discussions, fireside chats and a captivating keynote address. Participants gained new insights and left with a deeper understanding of the latest developments in these domains. Here we delve into the key highlights that made HFE 2023 a resounding success.


Research papers: The 5 main domains discussed

The conference commenced with 11 insightful research paper presentations, grouped into five distinct categories: F&B, Hospitality & Tourism, Urban Economics, Real Estate Valuation and Real Estate Investment. Each presentation was followed by lively discussions and engaging Q&A sessions, encouraging an exchange of ideas and fostering intellectual growth within the academic community. Here is a brief summary of each paper:


  • Companies from the Champagne and Languedoc-Roussillon regions exhibit higher return on equity (ROE), primarily driven by higher margins due to their excellent collective reputations (Schatt, A., HES Lausanne).
  • The perceptions and priorities of restaurant patrons regarding their dining experience have undergone significant changes during the pandemic, as evidenced by their review scores and comments on OpenTable. In fact, customer reviews of food, service and ambiance are considerably higher in the post- versus pre-Covid period, pointing to a ‘reset’ in the industry (Llewellyn, G., EHL Singapore).

Hospitality & tourism

  • Remittances sent by immigrants are one of the determinants of the potential volume of inbound tourism, especially for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives (Lopez, L. et al., EHL Singapore).
  • Hotel transaction prices are influenced by investor characteristics. Core investors' hotel investments are associated with price premiums, while opportunistic investors' investments are linked to discounts (Woltering, R. et al., EHL Lausanne).

Urban economics

  • The implementation of smart city policies and the smartness of cities play a role in reducing air pollution, with the effect moderated by institutional quality (Mori, M. et al., EHL Lausanne).
  • Compact city policies have long-term effects on the growth of sales, floor space, and employment of existing retailers (Iwata, S. et al., Kanagawa University).

Real estate valuation

  • Demographic factors, such as aging, influence the effect of monetary policy on asset prices and the supply of the residential stock of properties (Shimizu, C. et al., Hitotsubashi University).
  • Minority-owned homes are systematically appraised at lower values relative to automated valuation model estimates (Lopez, L.A. et al., University of Illinois at Chicago).

Real estate investment

  • Areas exposed to the risk of rising sea levels (SLR) tend to have significantly lower loan approval rates. However, local banks are more inclined to approve loans if the SLR risks are more medium and long term (Tahsin, S. et al., San José State University).
  • Investor cliques can influence funds’ abnormal performance through their influence on fund operations. Cliques are associated with longer capital call periods and exhibit greater patience with the fund manager's actions (Das, P. et al., IIM Ahmedabad).
  • Analyst coverage has a positive impact on the post-property acquisition returns of acquiring REITs, highlighting the important monitoring role of analysts (Ooi, J.T.L. et al., National University of Singapore).


Panel discussion: Regional insights in the hospitality and real estate industries

A panel discussion brought together esteemed academia and industry experts, namely Mr. Steve Carroll (CBRE), Ms. Chin Fen Eu (Frasers Hospitality), Mr. Tasos Kousloglou (Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited) and Dr. Masaki Mori, PhD (EHL). Moderated by Prof. Tien Foo Sing (NUS Business School), the discussion explored regional insights, offering valuable perspectives on the challenges and opportunities in the hospitality and real estate sectors. The panel addressed sustainability initiatives in Singapore and Japan, the labor shortage affecting all countries in the region, and the very slow return of Chinese tourists to Japan.

Fireside chat with industry thought leaders

The conference featured a fireside chat with industry thought leaders, including Mr. Kwon Ping Ho (founder and executive chairman of Banyan Tree Group). This insightful discussion, moderated by Dr. Seek Ngee Huat, delved into thought-provoking topics, shedding light on current trends, innovative practices, and emerging opportunities in the industry. While acknowledging the industry-wide issue of the labor shortage, he said companies that continue to offer good conditions and a positive work environment can sidestep this problem and attract and retain hospitality employees.

Keynote address on academic research in sustainable financing & innovations

The conference culminated in an engaging keynote address by Prof. Sumit Agarwal (NUS Business School). One of the foremost economists in the world, Prof. Agarwal's speech focused on the significance of academic research in driving sustainable financing and innovations. It emphasized the importance of collaboration between academia and industry in addressing key challenges and fostering positive change. He cited ambitious research whereby personal consumption data (meat, water, electricity, etc.) would be used to generate an individual ‘sustainability credit score’. The idea being, in a small country like Singapore for example, that people with a better sustainability score would pay less income tax.


The success of HFE 2023 was made possible through the generous contributions and active participation of esteemed guest speakers, who shared their valuable knowledge and insights. HFE wishes to extend their gratitude to all of the presenters who played a vital role by enriching the conference with their contributions.

Special thanks are extended to the conference organizers, including Dr. Jean-Philippe Weisskopf, Dr. Luciano Lopez, Dr. Masaki Mori, and Dr. Tien Foo Sing, for their guidance and support throughout the event. We would like to acknowledge the Scientific Committee members, namely Dr. Adam Aoun, Dr. Kwan Ok Lee, and Dr. Guy Llewellyn, for their role in curating an exceptional program of paper presentations. Lastly, we are grateful for the remarkable efforts of the conference team, including Celine Sim, Xiao Yan Goh, Wong Wei Chen, and Nor Rahizah A.R., who contributed to the overall success of HFE 2023.

See you in 2024!

Written by

Associate Professor at EHL Hospitality Business School