Deutsche Hospitality has unveiled plans for global expansion following its acquisition by the rapidly growing Chinese operator Huazhu Group in November last year.
Steigenberger sets itself a strong target to aim for
Deutsche Hospitality CEO Thomas Willms revealed that the group is aiming to drive massive growth across its portfolio – reaching a pipeline of 500 hotels over the next seven years.
It’s an ambitious target for Deutsche. The group’s current estate includes close to 150 hotels in operation or under development, meaning it would need to more than triple this number to achieve its goal. Willms’ confidence in its plan is no doubt boosted by the recent acquisition – a move that gives the group scope to expand beyond its existing customer base.
The plan sees Deutsche looking to take advantage of the opportunity its new owners bring to move into the Chinese market. The group believes it could even have its first hotel in the country open by July this year – a swift start to a new era.
Deutsche Hospitality turns its attention to China
The industry has been waiting to see what Deutsche Hospitality’s next moves would be ever since the €700m acquisition process began last year. The acquisition deal saw Huazhu Group integrate Deutsche Hospitality and its five brands (Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts, Maxx by Steigenberger, Jaz in the City, Intercity Hotel and Zleep Hotels) into its own portfolio.
It was clear that – alongside its strategic alliance with Accor Hotels – Huazhu Group was looking to strengthen its presence in the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region. It was also a move that gave it a much stronger footing in Europe’s mature markets – especially Germany.
The real question was how Deutsche planned to use its new owners’ influence and experience. At the time, it was suggested that the group might seek to expand across EMEA. But now, it seems it will look to widen its horizons considerably – entering Asia Pacific (APAC) and joining the competition within a booming Chinese travel market.
How Huazhu Group will help with expansion
The announcement at the German Hotel Congress shows that Deutsche Hospitality will leverage its new relationship with Huazhu Group to drive global appeal for its brands.
Now Deutsche hopes to begin a wave of development in new markets – beginning with China and the property set to open in Shanghai later this year. It also aims to drive worldwide growth in its dynamic Zleep and Maxx by Steigenberger brands; seeing them as a key element in its push to reach the 500-hotel mark by 2026.
Willms also plans to integrate Deutsche and Huazhu Group further. As well as creating new opportunities to develop properties in key target destinations, he aims to implement Huazhu systems like its loyalty program. It shows that he sees guest experience as a vital component of the expansion plan.
Overall, the announcement gives Deutsche Hospitality yet more to celebrate in the 90th year since its founding.
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