In anticipation of the one billion international tourism arrivals expected by 2010, Marriott International is planning to add more than 140 hotels and resorts outside the U.S. and Canada, representing more than 34,000 rooms in 43 countries over the next four years.
These new hotels are part of Marriott International’s global growth strategy in which more than 125,000 rooms were under construction, awaiting conversion or approved for development at year end 2007.
The international expansion is being fueled by an exploding, worldwide middle class and rising consumer confidence coupled with a desire to satisfy individual tastes and interests. It is expected to result in Marriott International outside the U.S. and Canada either managing or franchising nearly 500 hotels and offering travelers a choice of approximately 126,000 guest rooms by the end of 2011.
Represented in this expansion are Marriott International hotel brands in the luxury, deluxe, mid-market and extended stay travel segments, with the largest concentration of openings in the near term taking place in China, India, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
“We have signed contracts for all 140 hotels and are excited to be in a position to respond so positively to this coming wave of travelers,” said Ed Fuller, president & managing director of international lodging at Marriott. “Thanks to our ability to deliver results even during uncertain times and the clear preference our hotels and brands enjoy among major customer groups, our lodging products continue to attract strong interest among global developers and investors.”
Marriott’s openings over the next four years include:
• Luxury JW Marriott hotels in places like China, India, the UAE, Kazakhstan, Colombia and the United Kingdom
• Deluxe Marriott-branded hotels in cities like Macau, Hong Kong, Pune (India), Dubai, Phuket and Mexico City
• Deluxe Renaissance-branded hotels in cities and destinations including Bangalore, the Maldives, Curacao, Paris and Doha
• Courtyard properties for upper mid-tier travelers in cities and destinations like Phuket, Aberdeen (Scotland), Budapest, Hangzhou (China) and Hyderabad
• Marriott Executive Apartments for extended stay travelers in cities including, Guangzhou (China), Bangkok, Atyrau (Kazakhstan), Doha and Dubai.
In addition, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Marriott’s newly announced Nickelodeon brand for customers who want to combine play and productivity at meetings and its high-end boutique brand Edition also recently announced aggressive growth goals outside the U.S. and Canada.
Mr. Fuller said that the global tourism industry can expect strong years ahead. He cited the “graying” populations of developed countries which tend to have more discretionary money to spend on travel, the pent-up demand for travel among those in emerging economies and the global middle class whose strong desire to discover new experiences and to learn about other cultures are reasons to be optimistic.
Among recent Marriott International developments he cited were:
• Marriott’s agreement with the Scandinavian Hospitality Group of Norway which is expected to result in up to 15 Marriott International-branded hotels in Scandinavia. Six hotels have been announced. They include: a Marriott hotel at the Oslo Airport and a Courtyard hotel at the Kristiansund Airport in Norway; a Renaissance property in Malmoe, Sweden, a Courtyard hotel in Stockholm and two Marriott ski resorts in Norway. All six are expected to open by the end of 2010.
• The introduction of Marriott’s popular Courtyard hotel brand in Thailand with a destination city-class Courtyard property in Bangkok and four family-friendly-oriented destination Courtyard hotels in Phuket and Hua Hin.
• In Beijing, Marriott International is scheduled to have 10 hotels in operation in time for the Summer Olympic Games this August.
Mr. Fuller said that sales from online sources continued to have another banner year in 2007, growing 28% over the previous year. Marriott.com has become the single largest face of Marriott to the customer with more than 10 million unique visitors a month. In 2007, Marriott.com generated $5.2 billion in sales. Meanwhile, sales for Marriott International rooms through the Global Distribution Channels continue to account for 19% of all hotel sales through these channels, even though the Marriott portfolio accounts for seven percent of all hotel rooms worldwide.
Mr. Fuller did caution, however, that responsible and sustainable development is an imperative.
“Sustainability is the key here if we are to reap the many positive benefits of increased travel and tourism,” he said. “We must all do our part. The travel industry is the biggest in the world and promises to grow exponentially over the next 50 years. We cannot ignore the realities. Those of us in the travel industry have a role to play now in reducing our impact on the air we breathe, the water we drink and the destinations where we do business.”
To that end, among many internal initiatives such as tree-planting programs, Marriott International recently announced the following:
• a goal to reduce greenhouse gasses by 1 million tons by 2010
• a program to replace 4,500 outdoor signs with LED and fiber optic technology that has yielded a 40% reduction in outdoor advertising energy use in its first year
• a reduction in water consumption over 15% over the last five years
• a program in which 96% of all its hotels recycle.
“Let’s face it: when travelers make their buying decision, they generally do not select a destination because they want to stay in a particular hotel. They pick a destination because they want to experience its cultural or culinary attractions, environmental areas or places of historical significance. It is our duty to protect and preserve these destinations,” Mr. Fuller said.