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Will Marriott International still be number one in 2020?

With the recent announcement of its plan to acquire Elegant Hotels, Marriott International has shown the same desire for growth as in recent years – this time reinforcing its portfolio in the upscale segment. But will it be enough to fight off the competition?

Marriott still on top, but for how long?

Earlier this year, Marriott retained its place at the top of the annual Worldwide Hospitality Rankings in 2019. It’s a position the group has enjoyed for the last four years in a row – ever since its merger with Starwood Hotels in 2016. However, challengers for the top spot are emerging.

Marriott might remain the only hotel group with more than a million hotel rooms worldwide, but the most notable development from this year’s ranking is the rapid growth of brands based in Asia. It’s a trend that is likely to continue into 2020 and beyond.

In the last 12 months, Jin Jiang International rose from fifth place to become the second-largest hotel group globally – just ahead of Hilton Worldwide, pushed down to third. Elsewhere, OYO was flying the flag for digital disruption, with its innovative growth model earning a spot in the top ten for the first time, placing it at eighth.

Asian hospitality brands deliver the fastest growth

All nine brands that remained from last year’s top ten enjoyed growth during the 12 months leading up to the release of the rankings. However, Jin Jiang International and OYO Hotels were the clear winners in this area – adding huge numbers of rooms to their respective portfolios.

Jin Jiang International’s speedy growth has so far been fuelled by its acquisition of Radisson Hotel Group’s two subsidiaries – Radisson Hospitality Inc. and Radisson Hospitality AB. This has added more than 1,400 properties (in operation or pipeline) and more than 220,000 rooms to its global portfolio.

For OYO, only founded in 2013, it has been two years of runaway growth. It only entered the top ten largest hotel groups in the world earlier this year but has since claimed to have already overtaken International Hotel Group (IHG) as the third largest – boasting more than 850,000 rooms globally. Many industry leaders will be watching closely to see where it ends up ranking in 2020.

Where next for the hotel industry’s biggest groups?

Next year’s rankings will certainly make for interesting reading – especially for the groups wanting to combat the rise of OYO. Marriott will continue to focus on the upscale segment, while looking to achieve 33% growth across Africa by 2023. IHG is also seeking growth in upscale as it aims to hold onto its spot in the top three.

As for Jin Jiang International, much will depend on the realisation of its ambitious expansion plans for Radisson Hotel Group – especially in China. Meanwhile, OYO continues to grow at pace, recently expanding into the luxury market. The Indian start-up will no doubt leap several places when next year’s rankings arrive, but its longer-term success will depend on the sustainability of its business model as it grows so quickly.

Should it prove to be a winning formula, you can bet that other companies will be speedy to adopt elements of the model to fuel their own growth prospects.

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