Throughout the world there are nearly 4,000 hotel projects under construction representing more than three quarters of a million hotel rooms. Plus, there are thousands more hotels in planning stages. But is that figure the right amount, too much or too little? Well, that answer is a little more complicated than you’d immediately think.
That’s because the global hotel pipeline is as diverse as there are regions in the world and looking at the raw numbers sends mixed signals. Good thing we spoke with Bruce Ford, SVP Business Development with Lodging Econometrics, during last week’s BITAC Global to share with us regions of opportunity and areas of angst for the global hotel industry. Lodging Econometrics keeps tabs of every single hotel project in the world, including new construction and renovations.
Bruce and I spoke last week during BITAC, the industry leading one-on-one meetings and relationship building event in the United States where last week’s BITAC Global was held seaside in the Mediterranean in Monte Carlo, Monaco. BITAC Global attendees represent the crème de la crème of the international lodging community. It’s the ultimate group of global insiders and decision makers from nearly two dozen countries all gathered in one place. And they all came together for the most exciting BITAC to date to problem solve, network, sign deals and swap their thoughts they believe will move forward the quality of experiences for hotel guests while adding profits to the bottom line.
“It is cheaper to buy than build throughout most of world right now. The opportunity continues to be if I can buy, renovate and remake the hotel that is where opportunity lies in many urban centers,” said Ford noting this new global mantra. That being said there are nearly 1.4 million new hotel rooms in various stages of development throughout the world, but in places like China where many rooms are under construction once they leave the pipeline there are far fewer newer hotels under development or being considered at this juncture. That will shrink the pipeline radically sometime next year as 325,000 rooms enter the market said Ford, noting that places such as Indonesia are still experiencing heighted and needed hotel development.
Overall the Asia Pacific region has 1,837 hotels under construction representing 427,946 rooms while 627 hotels with 153,681 rooms are in planning stages.
“China’s pipeline is dropping really fast,” he said noting the Chinese government is holding off of new projects for the time being, but is confident that market will roar back in a couple of years.
In Europe, Ford said there is a bit of mixed signals going on. “There is an uncertain picture, the pipeline has been bouncing around a little bit and I expect Europe is not going to be a place with a growing pipeline for a full year. It’s been going up and down as seasons change but should make it to around 242,000 rooms by the end of the year,” he said. “We will begin to see growth in the pipeline by the start of next year.”
Ford noted that because of the lack of open land in European urban centers, as well as other factors, it’s making this area a massive conversion
market. Most construction taking place in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa) is happening in the Middle East. The region has 698 projects under construction with 152,000 rooms and 545 hotels with 91,622 rooms in planning stages.
Top markets for new construction include Dubai with 44 projects (13,287 rooms), 39 hotels (7,118 rooms) in London and 36 hotels (9,282 rooms) in Moscow.
Most interesting is how much emphasis American hotel companies are putting on global expansion. Hilton Worldwide in particular has been putting in an infrastructure for a major expansion for many of its brands and it can be seen in the pipeline figures.
“In many cities the western brands and companies are getting so big they are taking out a map of the world and looking where they are not represented enough and then going there,” said Ford.
Take Hilton, for example. Ford said they have many brands that are not represented in this region such as Hampton Inn.
In all Hilton has 1,204 hotels in the global pipeline with 209,903 rooms while Marriott has 1,050 rooms with 183,908 rooms. IHG comes in third with 998 hotels and 142,780 rooms while Starwood has 382 hotel projects under way and 93,262 rooms. Hyatt rounds out the top five with 262 hotels and 59,335 rooms.
Finally, Ford said the Middle East is a great region for Starwood. “The new project announcements are beginning to come and the opportunity to get into the market in there’s for the next couple of years,” said Ford. “There are many brands not well represented in this region.”