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The size of hospitality in the world

Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 2 Agosto 2002

I have received figures on the size of the largest hotel companies in the world, and compared them with those of the previous year, realising that there has been a constant albeit not homogeneous growth of the groups included in the list. For example, Carlson Hospitality Worldwide in 1998 owned 548 hotels for a total of 106,244 rooms, in 1999 it had 616 hotels and 114,161 rooms, in 2000 the figures went up to 716 and 129,234, and in 2001 to 788 and 135,066 respectively, whereas in 1998 Marriott International was the owner of 1,686 hotels for a total number of 328,300 rooms, which in 2001 became 2,398 hotels and 435,938 rooms. Italian companies are known for being small sized, and in a way this is a drawback of our hotel industry. Indeed, in 2001 the largest Italian group on the list – Jolly Hotels – ranks in 117th position with 46 hotels and 7,334 rooms. Italians are known for their individualism, but in the sphere of business we should be more open to international experiences which point towards the need for rationalisation. Large international companies achieve considerable sizes by pursuing franchising and management policies, which shows that this is a winning strategy worldwide: it is not by chance that the largest company in the world, Cendant, with 553,771 rooms, exclusively develops brand policies. Should we then all become identical, all impersonal, standard hotels leaving no room to their guests’ imagination and “discovery”? Definitely not. Let us not throw away the good things we have and we are generally credited with; let us try, instead, to rationalise our efforts. Joining in consolidated brands also means sharing in advanced marketing systems, boosting growth by adequate management techniques, accessing information which would not otherwise be available… Ultimately, it means leading one’s company to growth. I have a dear friend who keeps on talking about the goodness of his choice to join a large group’s franchising programme. In spite of this, however, not every situation is the same: individual conditions and proposals are to be assessed carefully, but we must avoid assuming a negative attitude towards new solutions.

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