Will Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood boost the hotel industry in 2017?
Report Available: March 8, 2017
Blueshift’s initial research showed a mediocre 2016 in the hotel industry, though the year finished with some momentum in Q4. Expectations for 2017 call for a deceleration of growth, though the integration of Starwood and MAR will ramp up, including the joining of the two customer loyalty programs. This could result in a slowdown for MAR properties and a boost for legacy Starwood locations as MAR members are able to choose the nicer Starwood properties.
- This past year was an average one in the hotel industry. Occupancy was flat, average daily rate (ADR) rose 3.1%, while revenue per available room (RevPAR) grew 3.2%, just below the 30-year U.S. average. Expectations for 2017 have growth slowing as additional supply outpaces growth in demand. All three metrics showed positive growth in Q4. Overall cost for business travel declined in Q4 to its lowest rates since Q4 of 2013 as the average nightly rate for U.S. hotels was $151, down from Q3.
- After its September 2016 acquisition of Starwood for $13 billion, MAR now boasts 30 hotel brands, over 5,500 properties, and 1.1 million rooms worldwide, making it the largest hotel chain across the globe.
- Central to the acquisition was Starwood’s loyalty program, which merges with MAR’s, where each Starwood point is worth three MAR points. Starwood’s Preferred Guest program has fiercely loyal members, especially those who spend many nights on the road. Bringing them under the MAR umbrella is expected to make the company the preferred company for corporate travel. MAR is currently offering 80,000 bonus points when signing up for its new premier credit card, which doubles as the biggest signup for Starwood points, too.
- There is a feeling that the Starwood loyalty members will be worse off while MAR Rewards members get access to nicer properties through Starwood. As there are more MAR Rewards members than Starwood members, MAR properties, especially those in the same market as Starwood, may suffer as its members opt for stays at Starwood properties.
- Bringing Starwood into the fold gives MAR a stronger leg to stand on as it pushes back against PCLN and EXPE to combat commissions as it attempts to get travelers to book directly with the hotels instead of the online travel giants.
What are expectations for 2017 RevPAR? Was a stronger Q4 a sign of things to come or an aberration? How is the integration effort between MAR and Starwood progressing? How are customers responding to the loyalty program change? What has changed in the economics for hotel owners? To answer these and other questions, Blueshift will gather data and issue a market research report from independent sources in the following areas: Owners of hotel assets and travel industry specialists.
Companies: Marriott International (MAR), Hilton Worldwide (HIL), InterContinental (IHG), Wyndham Worldwide (WYN), Hyatt Hotels (H), Choice Hotels (CHH)
Research Begins: Feb. 20, 2017