Marriott International expects East Asia to lead the recovery from the coronavirus crisis, but a full rebound will not happen until next year, with millennial customers leading the way, a regional executive with the hotel operator has told the Nikkei Asian Review.
"The markets in East Asia will recover sooner and we will see the 2019 level by the end of the year. The full recovery will be through the next year," said Craig Smith, Marriott's group president for Asia-Pacific. "The first and biggest group of people to come out and engage were millennials. ... Everything digital is becoming the new norm [for them]."
Business for Marriott, which operates and franchises more than 7,400 hotels worldwide under 30 brands, has bottomed out in most of the region, Smith said. He believes success in the post-coronavirus era will depend on whether it can adapt to a digitization and gain clients' confidence.
Marriott, which saw a spike in occupancy in resort areas in China during the Golden Week national holiday starting May 1, is prioritizing "safety and hygiene" to prevent from spreading the virus and lure guests back.
The company, which set up a joint venture with Alibaba Group Holding in 2017 to improve its visibility to Chinese millennials and is testing check-ins using facial recognition technology, is partnering with the Chinese tech giant's food delivery arm, Ele.me, to offer meal deliveries at 32 hotels in the country.
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