Eight years ago, Hilton opened its first hotel in Russia. Today, the company has 21 hotels open across the country, and has signed another 29 to open.
“Russia has been one of our main focus markets for several years,” Phil Cordell, global head of focused service brands for Hilton, said. “In 2008, we opened our first two hotels, with six more by 2014. In the first half of 2016, Hilton became the leading international brand to open hotels in the Russian market.” The company has opened three properties in Russia this year, Cordell noted, and expects to open the Hampton by Hilton Volgograd City Centre next month.
To expand the company’s footprint, Hilton has partnered with several local ownership and management groups in major target cities, including Moscow, Volgograd, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don and Ufa. The upcoming Hilton Garden Inn Khabarovsk, for example, is part of a franchise agreement with Dalreostroy LLC, part of the Dalreo Group, while the Hilton Moscow Tverskaya Luxe will open as part of a franchising agreement with Mospromstroy. The Hilton Garden Inn Orenburg, meanwhile, is part of a franchise agreement with ZAO Orenburgskaya Ekspluatatsionnaya Kompaniya.
“Our development teams in Russia focus on large cities, as well as on smaller strategic regional cities,” Cordell said. “There is no single principle or approach for choosing a city for the hotel, as we make a complex and thorough market analysis of all market opportunities that could be most suitable for the brands we have in Russia. When the team looks at an opportunity to start a new project, they consider several factors, including business activity in the city and the surrounding region, supply and demand in the hotel sector, the economic prospect for the region and attractiveness of the area to tourists, among others.”
So far, just four of Hilton’s brands are represented in Russia—Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton. Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton will also double from the current 15 properties to more than 36 hotels in the coming three to five years. Before launching the new brands in Russia, the regional team examined the respective consumer markets. “The team’s first step was to consider population,” Cordell said. “Most of our hotels in Russian cities with populations near one million people have between 120 and 195 rooms. In Moscow—population of 11.92 million—we have more than 270 rooms. Before opening a hotel, the team always studies the potential demand from tourists and business travelers, as well as the local hospitality market’s saturation.”
Hilton’s team anticipates several notable openings for 2017: the Hilton Garden Inn Moscow Krasnoselskaya; the Hilton St. Petersburg ExpoForum; the DoubleTree by Hilton Moscow Vnukovo Airport; and two additional Hilton Garden Inns, in Novorosiysk and Orenburg.
According to a report from JLL released over the summer, the first half of 2016 saw the branded hotel market in Russia and the CIS grow by about 2,000 rooms. Of that, almost 1,500 rooms opened in Russian cities, indicating ongoing growth for the country’s hospitality scene. Russia was expected to get a further 2,300 rooms by the end of 2016. At the time, Tatiana Veller, head of JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group, Russia & CIS, said that Hilton was the leader in terms of new openings for the region.