Marriott Sees China as the Promised Land

Marriott International Inc which is now the world’s biggest hotel group plans to double its presence in China. Why? Well just because China is that important of a market.

Now that the merger with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc is complete, Marriott 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.

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 future growth.

“China is the world’s second-largest economy. But when 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’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-six-percent growth,” he said.

A key focus for the merged group in China will be the leisure tourism market.

“There are more than 170 cities with populations of 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,” said Ho.