Development executives from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Choice Hotels International and Steigenberger Hotel Group joined Hotel Management editor in chief Stephanie Ricca for a roundtable discussion at the International Hotel Investment Forum. Topics ranged from development hotspots for each brand to the growth of the franchise model. All three brand executives agreed that 2014 is a good time for growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as long as attention is paid to specific market dynamics.
Picture: HM publisher Amy Vaxman; Claus-Dieter Jandel, CDO of Steigenberger Hotel Group; Mark Pearce, SVP of Choice Hotels International’s international division; HM editor Stephanie Ricca; and Bart Carnahan, SVP of development for EAME for Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Factors behind improving global transactions include better financing options, independent hoteliers becoming more open to franchising options and increased worldwide travel.
Mark Pearce, SVP of the international division of Choice Hotels, said growth outside the U.S. is coming largely through conversions and via master franchise agreements (in Scandinavia and Ireland) and via wholly owned subsidiaries elsewhere. “We’re focused on improving the value proposition for European franchisees,” he said. Part of that strategy is making the Choice system attractive to current independent hoteliers looking for brand affiliation.
Bart Carnahan, SVP of development for Europe, Africa and the Middle East for Starwood, said Starwood too is looking at growth through strong local partnerships. “We want to find global partners who can do deals with us on a massive global rollout,” he said, rather than doing individual deals piecemeal.
For the German-born Steigenberger Hotel Group, expansion comes through a more targeted strategy. Claus-Dieter Jandel, CDO of Steigenberger, said the company has a measured growth plan: “The German traveler is loyal … we want to expand our brand to where Lufthansa flies and to where German travelers go for business and leisure.”
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