Between aggregators like China’s Jin Jiang International to industry unicorn Oyo Hotels & Homes, the complexion of HOTELS annual 325 is evolving at a pace not seen before.
Marriott International holds onto the top spot after what now feels like an ancient deal to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts. But this year Hilton dipped to No. 3 behind Chinese state-owned Jin Jiang, which leaped up the ranking after its November 2018 acquisition of Radisson Hotel Group and its almost 200,000 rooms from China’s HNA Group.
In the past four years, Jin Jiang has become a keen acquirer and was not told to sell off assets, as had been the case for some of its more leveraged Chinese contemporaries like HNA Group, Anbang and Wanda Hotels & Resorts. Instead, Jin Jiang has been on an impressive run: It acquired the 100,000-plus-room Louvre Hotels Group from France, as well as India’s Sarovar Hotels & Resorts.
Inside China it added Vienna Hotels Group, Plateno Group and 7 Days Group. Jin Jiang’s own Jin Jiang Inn brand alone accounted for another 130,000 rooms at the end of 2018. If that’s not enough, Jin Jiang is Accor’s biggest shareholder, with a nearly 12% stake. While Jin Jiang will have its hands full integrating Radisson into its system, it’s any-one’s guess where it will go next for growth, but aspiration does not appear to be lacking. In fact, China as a nation is embracing hospitality and the hotel business like no other, now with six of this year’s top 20 giants based there.
The other story emerging from this year’s ranking is, undoubtedly, Oyo, an industry disruptor with a unique model. It is taking thousands upon thousands of unbranded, shabby hotels (in many cases converted extra rooms sitting atop an industrial building) and converting them to franchises or leases with a new, standardized product rented with high occupancies at technology-optimized bargain rates.
Oyo is not an apples-to-apples comparison versus rooms from players like Hilton and Accor, but it is breaking the mold, especially in the enormous budget segment. In India alone, Oyo expects revenue for the year ended March 31, 2019, at US$200 million, triple the previous year. But this development does show how this annual ranking might further evolve as tradition continues to get thrown out the window.