A few years ago, an executive traveller from China, India or Indonesia would probably never have heard of some of the world’s biggest international hotel brands, such as InterContinental, Hilton or Marriott. Today, one is probably opening in their hometown.
Due to booming domestic demand, the Asia-Pacific
region is seeing a mushrooming in hotels from international and regional chains.
Hilton, for example, plans to grow to 300 hotels in the region over the next
six years. Starwood Hotels, which
includes the Westin
brands, will open 50 new properties in Asia this year, which accounts for nearly
60% of the company’s development in 2012. And in India, Marriott is expanding
from 11 to 100 hotels in the next five years.
“By the end of 2013 we'll have more hotels
on China’s Hainan Island than in the [US’s] Hawaiian Islands,” said Matt Fry, Starwood’s
senior vice president of development in Asia.
According to the United Nations World Travel Organisation, China's
hotel market will overtake the US’s as the world's largest by 2025, with around
six million hotel rooms -- and almost double it by 2039.
“The supply of hotel rooms in Asia is still
way below North American and European levels,” explained Fry. So the region is
playing catch up -- and not just in China and India. New hotels are springing
up in a variety of destinations, such as Baku, Colombo and Dhaka. Markets like South
Korea and Indonesia are also booming.
“As these markets further mature, our
global network will benefit from a strong domestic presence in the countries
that are destined to become major outbound markets,” said Gaurav Bhushan, chief
investment officer at the Accor Asia
Pacific hotel group.
The hotel giants are hoping that the Texan
oil worker visiting Daqing, China’s largest oil field, will notice the Sheraton
logo as he pulls into the northern Heilongjiang province city. And when his
Chinese counterpart returns the visit, he will notice the same in Houston. The hotels
are sowing the seeds today for their future success tomorrow, by taking these brands
into the very Asian towns and cities that will spawn a future generation of
With more properties in Asia springing up,
competition has also increased among domestic brands, forcing
hotels to step up their game.“In economy hotels in India you now see higher
levels of service, more facilities and food and beverage outlets that would
normally be seen in upscale hotels elsewhere in the world,” said Bhushan.
On the downside, if you’re staying at a newly
opened global brand hotel, you may have to excuse the erratic service. Working
at an international hotel often is the starting ground for many young, bright hotel
employees who are later coveted by other service industries, such as airlines, banks
and domestic hotel brands, after their initial training.“They all view
experience in international hotel brands as a major asset and this is placing stresses
on the hotel business in many Asian markets,” explained Bhushan.