Skift Take

Hotel companies with a strong focus on leisure and drive-to properties are going to show the strongest development numbers this cycle, but don't expect a massive downturn in construction from even the more business-oriented brands. Real estate is a long-term play.

Series: Early Check-In

Early Check-In

Editor’s Note: Skift Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill brings readers exclusive reporting and insights into hotel deals and development, and how those trends are making an impact across the travel industry.

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A bulk of the world’s largest hotel companies will report their first quarter earnings over the next two weeks, and it will give insight into how successful their branded-is-better development logic has been over the duration of the pandemic. Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG report this week while Marriott and Choice Hotels both report on May 10. Each of these companies spent the better part of last year touting the benefits to brand affiliation (global distribution, loyalty programs, customer familiarity, etc.) coming out of the crisis, but actual results will likely be mixed. Choice is likely to be one of the more successful companies to beef up its development pipeline in recent months. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, widely seen as one of Choice’s direct competitors, posted strong gains to its pipeline in the first quarter. Wyndham’s development pipeline grew slightly to 187,000 rooms in the first quarter. The 62,000-room China portfolio is 20 percent higher than it was a year ago. That should bode well for Choice, given its brands are typically located in drive-to and leisure markets. Wyndham CEO Geoff Ballotti chalked up his company’s success to maintaining focus on growth through the pandemic and not laying off a single staffer involved in bringing in more franchise agreements. “For opportunities, you need franchise sales teams in place, and we have those teams in place,” Ballotti said on the company’s earnings call. A Mixed Bag: Companies like Hyatt, Hilton, IHG, and Marriott will all point to signs of growth, but it may not be as robust as s