Mar­riott ho­tel group to dou­ble pres­ence in China

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By XUJUNQIAN in Shang­hai xujunqian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional Inc — the newly-merged com­pany that is the world’s big­gest ho­tel group — plans to dou­ble its pres­ence in China, the firm an­nounced on Fri­day.

The Mary­land-based group an­nounced the same day its com­ple­tion of the ac­qui­si­tion of Star­wood Ho­tels & Re­sorts World­wide Inc, fol­low­ing ap­proval­fromtheChi­ne­seMin­istry of Com­merce on Sept 20.

Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional now op­er­ates a to­tal of 260 prop­er­ties in China, with an­other 300 in the pipe­line. Re­search firm Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional es­ti­mated that it en­joys a lead­ing mar­ket share of 4.1 per­cent in the Chi­nese mar­ket, fol­lowed by Homeinns Ho­tel & Man­age­ment at 4 per­cent and China Lodg­ing Group at 3.9 per­cent.

The group ex­pected its pro­jected dou­bling of pres­ence would fur­ther fos­ter its lead­ing po­si­tion in China.

Glob­ally, the com­pany has more than 5,700 prop­er­ties un­der 30 brands in over 110 coun­tries. Only 16 brands have been in­tro­duced to China in the past three decades since the two com­pa­nies en­tered China, leav­ing am­ple space for fur­ther and faster growth, ac­cord­ing to the man­age­ment.

“China is the world sec­ond­largest econ­omy. But when Henry Lee, you com­pare the num­ber of ho­tels in big ci­ties here with that in the US or Europe, it’s ac­tu­ally min­i­mal,” said Henry Lee, chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer of Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional‘s Greater China re­gion.

“When peo­ple look at the Chi­nese econ­omy, they say it’s slow­ing down from dou­ble digit growth to sin­gle. But many coun­tries would still love to have kind of five-or-six­per­cent growth,” he said.

A key fo­cus for the merged group in China will be the leisure tourism mar­ket, boosted by the bur­geon­ing mid­dle class, the world’s big­gest and num­bered at 109 mil­lion peo­ple in 2015 by Credit Suisse es­ti­mate.

“There are more than 170 ci­ties with pop­u­la­tions more than 1 mil­lion in China. We will keep look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties there while con­tin­u­ing to grow in the gate­way ci­ties,” said Stephen Ho, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional.

The two groups pre­vi­ously said that the merger could help the duo make up for each other’s de­fi­cien­cies. Ho, for­merly the Pres­i­dent of Star­wood’s Asia Pa­cific re­gion, noted that while Star­wood was more about be­ing in­no­va­tive, Mar­riott’s rep­utable con­sis­tency was ad­mirable.

“We are not only look­ing at the in­bound mar­ket, but also an equally im­por­tant out­bound mar­ket,” saidHo.

But when you com­pare the num­ber of ho­tels in big ci­ties here with that in US or Europe, it’s ac­tu­ally min­i­mal.” COO of Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional‘s Greater China re­gion

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