Marriott International is the world’s largest hospitality company with 30 brands that span all types from of hotels from select service to luxury. Among its many well-known names are Ritz-Carlton, Westin, Sheraton, Courtyard by Marriott and AC by Marriott. Overseeing this mammoth company is no easy task. Craig S. Smith, who oversees the international division of Marriott International, Inc., offers a peak behind the curtain of what it’s like to manage more than 2,300 properties in 136 countries and territories across Asia, the Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.
As the company grows its workforce and its hotel network, Marriott sees both challenges and opportunities in its future, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.
What is Marriott’s growth plan for the Asia-Pacific market?
There are tremendous growth opportunities around the world, but especially in the Asia Pacific region. This area is serving as a growth engine for the company with 56% of the total global pipeline located in the Asia-Pacific marketplace. There are nearly 1,000 open properties at the moment plus 700 more hotels in our signed pipeline.
The company’s strength in luxury stands out with Bulgari, The Ritz-Carlton, The Edition, The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, JW Marriott and W all present in the region. The international division itself currently accounts for 78% of the company’s total luxury pipeline.
Will “select-service” grow in tandem with the portfolio?
This is the benefit of having a vast portfolio with 30 iconic brands, the select-service hotel tier is also expanding. Japan is a stellar example with Fairfield by Marriott hotels located near roadside rest stations called “michi-no-eki” growing a lot.
Where else in Asia Pacific is Marriott seeing potential?
The company is quadrupling its footprint in Vietnam with a presence in both urban and resort areas. Another marked growth area is the leisure footprint in Australia, Thailand, and the Maldives. Marriott is also seeing increased business travel and group activity in Singapore, South Korea, India and Indonesia.
Domestic business in China is strong and fueled, in part, by a particularly young luxury hotel customer. Looking ahead, Marriott sees long-term growth potential with young, affluent Chinese travelers.
One key area that people don’t always associate with the company is the many award-winning restaurants at many properties, representing a true bright spot. For example, there’s Colony at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, an all-day restaurant featuring local and Asian cuisine from seven open-concept kitchens.
There are several Michelin star award winners under the flat including Tin Lung Heen at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, L’Envol at The St. Regis Hong Kong and Man Ho Chinese Restaurant at JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong. All of these bring strong business and brand awareness to hotels in the region.
How does Marriott Bonvoy factor into the brand awareness?
Marriott Bonvoy is the “crown jewel,” elevating the customer value proposition of more than 8,100 properties worldwide and with over 173 million members.
Marriott Bonvoy credit cards help keep travelers invested in the program, too. They are not just with us when traveling, but also during and in between stays, which builds value. Bonvoy members tend to book through direct channels like the Marriott website and app, which helps boost owner and franchisee profitability.
In the Asia-Pacific region specifically, five Marriott Bonvoy co-brand credit cards were launched in (two in Japan and three in China) in the first half of this year and global cardholder acquisitions and cardholder spend are achieving record levels as the program’s “stickiness” continues to take hold. This builds upon the growth and popularity of the program and credit card business in the United States.
Is the all-inclusive market important to Marriott?
Marriott is all in on all-inclusive. Marriott is growing rapidly in the Central and Latin American region with all-inclusive and extended stay part of a global trends. Extended stay properties are also a breakout global category, especially in a “work from anywhere” environment, which lends itself to longer lengths of stay.
Within Asia Pacific in general, All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy examples include Element Bali Ubud in Indonesia and Element Melbourne Richmond in Australia. The brand is growing worldwide, but Asia Pacific is a particular focus.