'Consumers have permanently changed their travel behaviours,' says Marriott International’s Jerome Briet

Jerome Briet, Chief Development Officer EMEA, Marriott International , discusses changing consumer behaviour, growth plans and the rise in use of technology ahead of the International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF) in Berlin on 3-5 May.

Hospitality Insights: What are the main trends affecting the hospitality and travel sector?

Jerome Briet: The hospitality industry continues to see evolving consumer trends and expectations, especially as more and more people are ready to experience new destinations and explore the world again after two years. Since the pandemic, space and cleanliness have been at the forefront of customer expectations, and this will remain for a long time. The purchasing decision process has also evolved, and more consumers are willing to pay higher prices to buy from brands they trust and feel connected to.

From a travel perspective, 2022 is the year of the new traveller. Recent research shows seven in 10 consumers believe their travel behaviours have changed permanently, and we believe that to be true.

The trip purpose is less clear than ever before due to the rise of digital nomads and flexible, remote working environments. As a result, we’re increasingly seeing a blended trip purpose, also known as bleisure, where travellers are taking time to enjoy leisure experiences as part of their business trips. At the same time, our Marriott Bonvoy research shows that consumers plan to take longer, more expensive trips this summer compared to pre-pandemic times, and are set to book once-in-a-lifetime holidays in 2022 after not travelling for almost three years.

Another major shift in the hospitality sector is the use of technology. It is constantly growing, and customer needs are consequently changing. Digitalisation isn’t a competitive advantage anymore; it’s an expectation, and at Marriott, we are leading with a mobile-first approach. Over the past two years, we have accelerated the rollout of digital technologies, enhancing the customer experience by offering more personalised request options, live chats between guests and hotel staff, mobile check-in, and mobile key, now available in 67% of our EMEA hotels. We’re also using technology to provide better personalisation – a great example of this is the ability to use the app in local languages. Currently, we have 11 languages live, with more to come this year.

Undoubtedly, digitalisation and the need for personalised experiences will continue to increase in 2022, so the sector needs to focus on enhancing technology capabilities to better connect with customers and meet their needs. Change can be positive, and in this case, it enriches the lives of our members and guests.

Hospitality Insights: What segments have the biggest potential for growth? 

Briet: Growth varies depending on the region. For example, in Europe, our select-service brands are spearheading our growth and account for more than 50 per cent of the company's current signed pipeline of hotels in the Europe region.

Over the coming years, we’ve got some exciting plans. In 2023, we’ll debut Fairfield by Marriott Hotels in Europe with the Fairfield by Marriott Badhoevedorp Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (The Netherlands) and Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen Nordhavn (Denmark). We’ve worked hard to localise the design, and I’m confident with its effortlessly relaxed and efficient hotel design paired with a contemporary Northern European aesthetic, the brand will continue to attract interest from potential partners across the region.

At the same time, the Moxy brand continues to grow in Europe, with more than 26 hotels expected to open by the end of 2023. This includes the Moxy Liverpool City Centre (UK), Moxy Hotel Helsinki West Harbor (Finland) and Moxy Pompeii (Italy). Finally, the extended-stay segment remains extremely resilient in Europe, especially with the rise of multi-purpose travel. Our Residence Inn by Marriott hotels fits this niche perfectly, and we plan to extend its reach with 15 more Residence Inn by Marriott Hotels expected to open in city hotspots like Naples (Italy), Vienna (Austria) and Paris (France) by the end of 2023. 

Across the Middle East, luxury hotels continue to be in high demand with consumers. This year, we’re opening the stunning W Dubai - Mina Seyahi and we will introduce The Ritz-Carlton brand in Jordan with the opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Amman. In addition, we have four incredible luxury hotels expected to open in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the coming two years, and in Qatar, we expect to see the addition of four luxury hotels by the end of 2023, which includes the stunning Palais Vendôme, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Doha.

Across Africa, we're fortunate to have a fantastic portfolio of hotels that offer so much diversity in terms of experience. As we continue to grow our portfolio, we see great potential with Protea by Marriott across the African continent. We have worked to reposition it as a local conversion brand, ideal for smaller, independent operators looking to pull into the power of Marriott’s global sales, distribution and loyalty platform. Over the next two years, we expect to open 20 Protea by Marriott hotels in key locations across Africa.

Finally, All-inclusive continues to be high on the agenda for the leisure traveller. Over the past year, we’ve grown this segment in the Caribbean and Latin America, and we’re now exploring ways to expand this across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Hospitality Insights: How technology be used to improve to deliver on ESG goals?

Briet: Looking across the industry, with our collective size and global scale, we're well-positioned to be part of the solution as we move forward in this rapidly evolving world. From the way we build hotels to the actions we're taking to support local communities, the hospitality industry is part of the very fabric of society. At Marriott, we have a sustainability and social impact programme called Serve360, because for us, we see this as a 360-degree mission. We have a real responsibility to give back to the communities where we are based, so we also prioritise reducing our impact on their environment, and empowering and creating new opportunities for people living there.

From a technology perspective, AI has played a key role, particularly in our kitchens. Winnow and Leanpath are platforms our chefs are using in their drive to cut food waste - it helps them measure and track waste and predict trends to reduce overproduction.

One of the few positives of Covid has been the escalation of using digitalisation to reduce plastic touchpoints. With more and more guests wanting to interact via the App rather than in person, we are providing guests with more options to access property information such as the hotel services directory digitally and are providing new ways for guests to interact with hotel employees.

Technology is key for our reporting too – and our Marriott Environmental Sustainability Hub (MESH), used by our hotels, captures and calculates carbon, energy, water and waste consumption. We use this tool to evaluate alternative and renewable energy opportunities, track and report compliance, and report on any successes with sustainability programmes and efforts.

Ultimately, so much of our work to reduce energy and water relies on technology. Water desalination technology, cooking oil recycling units, solar panels…these technologies have helped us get started, and we're interested to see what is coming next.


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