Marriott International is looking to win over millennials and conquer the upscale market as part of a plan to grow its European business.
The company added an extra 40,000 rooms in the region through its Starwood Hotels & Resorts acquisition, helping it to hit 134,000 open and signed rooms at the end of 2016.
Despite coming close to achieving its previous 2020 target of 150,000 rooms three years early, Marriott has not yet set itself a new benchmark. However, Amy McPherson, president and managing director, Marriott International, Europe, revealed some of the segments being focused on.
These include, expanding the company’s lead in luxury and upper upscale as well as “becoming the leader in the upscale segment and winning with millennials in affordable lifestyle.”
“Half the room supply in Europe is in that space [lifestyle] which is somewhat unique… that’s young people travelling because there’s these fantastic destinations,” said McPherson.
Any success in the latter category is likely to come through the Moxy brand, which was launched in partnership with Swedish furniture store Ikea’s real estate arm in 2014.
The number of Moxy rooms in Europe is set to jump from over 1,000 to more than 19,000 over the next three years with the likes of London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Vienna and Oslo set to welcome new hotels.
“We launched it because in the lifestyle space we thought there wasn’t really a great stylish affordable hotel brand,” said McPherson.
One of the key characteristics of the Moxy brand is its extensive food and beverage offering and sizable lobby area. McPherson listed competitors in the space as CitizenM, Mama Shelter and 25hours Hotels (the latter two having secured investment from AccorHotels).
Elsewhere, Marriott is targeting growth in the upscale segment through the doubling of the 24,000 open rooms that is has today with brands including AC Hotels, Aloft Hotels, and Four Points by Sheraton. The company also intends to expand the number of Courtyard Hotels rooms by more than 12,000.
Marriott’s expansion strategy in Europe comes at a time of great political and economic uncertainty on the continent. Elections in Germany, France, and The Netherlands have presented far-right candidates with the chance to upset the establishment and there are also lingering concerns surrounding terrorism and the fall-out from the UK’s Brexit vote.
Asked whether these challenges could derail Marriott’s strategy, McPherson said: “Well if you look at our growth in the last five years, despite all that geopolitical turmoil, I would say it really hasn’t.”
“It impacts those markets at the time and the great thing about Europe is that some economies are up and some economies are down and it tends to work itself out from a development standpoint. And it hasn’t really hampered us to this point.”