The rate of change continues to impact the hotel landscape. Nowhere is this more evident than on this year’s Top 50 Report (see story on p.23). Mergers and acquisitions, the growing influence of technology and the disruptive forces at play — not to mention the challenges of dealing with OTAs and brand segmentation — continue to shape the everyday realities of the hotel industry.
Not surprisingly, now that the mergers of Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts and AccorHotels and FRHI Hotels & Resorts are completed, the composition of this year’s Top 50 Report has been dramatically altered. FRHI, a looming presence on the report ever since its inception, first as Canadian Pacific Hotels and then as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, has now disappeared from the list, although the Fairmont brand continues to operate under the AccorHotels umbrella with a regional office in Canada. Similarly, the Starwood entity no longer exists, although its varied and strong brand portfolio continues to dominate the marketplace under the Marriott name. As a result, Marriott’s standing on our Top 50 has improved, with the company moving up several notches to reach the number-2 position, which now includes sales figures from Starwood, after the date the transaction became finalized (September 2016). Look for more change next year when the Top 50 Report will include a full year of operation for the former Starwood properties.
As hotel companies continue to gobble each other up, the number of ownership companies continues to dwindle while the number of brands continues to proliferate as companies grow their portfolios. As an example, Hilton Hotels recently added three new brands to its complement (Tru, Tapestry and Canopy); Hyatt has recently added Unbound and countless others are also joining the fray, making one wonder whether there are simply too many brands in the marketplace. And, how big is big enough? How will this proliferation of brands impact independents, who are increasingly finding it harder to compete amidst a sea of flags (see story on page 41). Interestingly, as millennials continue to gain clout in the marketplace, their love of indie brands may actually spur growth in this segment, as this demographic is attracted to the personalized approach rather than the cookie cutter. And with about 15,000 independent upscale hotels around the world, is there any wonder soft brands are growing?
As the industry continues to grow and evolve, one thing is clear — there is no patented formula for success. With the industry continuing to operate in a state of flux, where increasing costs add a layer of uncertainty to every new day, what worked yesterday may not necessarily work today, and today’s truth will invariably give way to tomorrow’s changing reality.