Arne Sorenson, President & CEO of Marriott International, defined China as their largest market at the recent International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. Mr. Sorenson said that Marriott will need more brands to expand in the market.
Sorenson mentioned at the summit that he remained optimistic and was excited about the macro trends in the travel industry.
"We have two strong supports," he said. "One is that we get more and more experience by working with different parts of the world through acquisitions; the second is that the middle class is growing globally and hundreds of millions of people want to start their first trip."
His speech included five points:
China is the best opportunity for growth
Sorenson said that the opportunities brought about by the growing middle class worldwide are most obvious in China.
"China is our largest market," he said. "With 260 hotels officially launched and another 300 currently in progress in China, at some point, Marriott is opening one hotel every single week, and all these hotels are often large ones for the luxury class. "
He added that the growth of China's consumer economy is good news for both domestic and foreign travel destinations.
The need for convenience drives technological development
With the continuous growth of hotel technology, to better serve the guests will be the ultimate purpose of developing technologies, Sorenson said.
"Imagine that you can open the guestroom door with your phone, without having to go to the reception desk for the key," he said, "and room service will be available when you enter your room. Again, imagine that you want to order meals on the beach, and you can do it through a phone app, and the waiter will be able to prepare and send whatever you have ordered in the shortest time, you no longer have to wait for the order and delivery.”
Marriott needs more brands
Sorenson pointed out that he was thinking about creating new opportunities by adding new brands to Marriott at some point, but in the meantime, he also mentioned that a reasonable number of brands can be a variable target.
“Ten years ago, I was often asked if Marriott has got enough brands, and I told them yes," he said. "even before we closed the acquisition of Starwood, we have added five or six more brands in the past five years, and we have a good reason for the introduction of each new brands." He was quite confident in the future growth of Marriott's brands.
"We now have up to 30 brands, accounting for only 7% of the global share of the accommodation industry," Sorenson said. "There are various brands in the hotel industry around the world, and since these brands have been maintaining their strong and distinctive brand images, we are still open to the potential of adding more.”
Jury VS OTA
After merging with Starwood, the consolidated company’s leverage on its next negotiations with OTAs such as Expedia and Priceline is yet to be measured, according to Sorenson.
He said, "maybe we’re excluded somehow, but there’re some fields that we hope to expand our business, and there’re, of course, some fields that we can work together. Compared with OTAs, we are on a sticky wicket because those low-frequent or leisure travelers are not our loyal members yet, and they’re not familiar enough with our hotel brands, either.”
Integration of Starwood relatively slow
Sorenson described the acquisition of Starwood as “a work requiring a lot of efforts”, he also pointed that the work was progressing very well.
However, one thing that caught him unprepared on the acquisition and transformation was the loyalty of Starwood members. " I should have realized how crazy the SPG members were about this program," he said, "maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised after all." (Translated by Xenia)