The Hospitality Brand Game

[get a fresh cup of coffee…. this is a long one]

Yesterday I posted the June Compete stats for the airline industry and Tuesday, posted the same for the online players.  Easy peasy as Sam Axe of Burn Notice would say (and yes, I am a die hard fan).

The hotel industry – not so much…..

Sure, we can start by looking at the top level brand picture for each of the publicly traded hospitality companies, but it doesn’t tell the whole picture, due to what I call the “hospitality brand game”.

When we look at the top level story, we aren’t seeing quite as much uptake on the hotel side of the direct distribution game as we did yesterday on the airline side, although three out of the five have double digit month over month growth (Marriott, Starwood and IHG) and there are also two with double digit year over year growth (Marriott and IHG).

The “brand game” issue here is that there are so many brands that sit under the parent brands, that it some cases, when the hotelier has not structured their individual brand sites appropriately,  it actually renders the top level Compete picture somewhat worthless.

This is the case with Wyndham and the top level picture sells them short, as 9 of their 11 brands had double digit growth in June and two had more than double digit year over year growth.  Wyndham elects to work this way to maintain the integrity of their individual brands.  They also use their website to showcase the breadth of their brand portfolio. They get another 775k unique visitors to that site.

Also at the top level, the winners in the growth game are:

Unique Visitors = Marriott
Month over Month Growth = Marriott (overall), Wyndham (at individual brand level)
Year over Year Growth = Marriott (overall), (top level brand)
Stock Price = Starwood
Market Cap = Marriott (although they have the lowest ratio to revenues)
Annual Revenues = Marriott

Let’s start with Marriott,  which has a whopping 13 brands, ranging from luxury to select service/extended stay.  With the exception of Ritz Carlton (352k unique visitors in June, with single  digit growth), which maintains its own separate URL, all of their other brands are now embedded in the parent brand (   The company has 6.5m unique visitors and double digit growth in both month over month and year over year.  I have also heard anecdotaly that they have an amazing conversion rate, also in double digits, and in direct distribution, that is the name of the game.

Marriott is trading at $33.38 today, with a market cap of $11.78b on $12.04b in revenues.

From what we saw in the initial story above, Wyndham would have appeared to be in last place.  But indeed, they are in 2nd place, well ahead of Starwood.

Wyndham has not rationalized the URLs of its brands and as such, the picture on is not complete.
The company has 74k visits to and then another 4.3m on their other 11 brands.  As mentioned, they also have 775k visits to their rewards program site.

Wyndham is trading at $34.73, with a market cap of $5.9b on revenues of $3.92b.

IHG is in third place as far as visitors, with 2.2m visitors but has seen the most growth in online visits with 15%.  Only Hotel Indigo brand does not resolve to the URL.  This boutique brand gets 36k visits per month, up 53% in June over May’s numbers, but down 45.98% year over year.

IHG is trading at $20.10, with a market cap of $5.77b on revenues of $1.66b, which is the strongest valuation of the all the brands at 348% of revenues.

Starwood comes next.  The parent brand has 2 million uniques.  The company has 9 brands, on the whole skewing more toward the higher end than their competitors.  Starwood has done a thorough job of harnessing all of its brands under the parent, so the 2 million is a solid picture of their volume.  They are flat year over year, but did very well in June, likely boosted by the summer travel seasonality.

Starwood is trading at $55.71 today, with a market cap of $10.42b on revenues of $5.18b.

Of the big, publicly traded brands, Hyatt comes last, with 1.5m unique visitors, up 3.5% year over year and down slightly month over month for June.  It has 9 brands, 8 of which embed the word Hyatt, leaving no doubt as to the parentage.   They skew toward higher end business travel, which would account for the slight dip in the summer, family vacation season.   Only its new, boutique Andaz brand has its own website.  With just 5 hotels open, Andaz has just 6.5k unique visitors, up 10.74% year over year.

Hyatt is trading at $40.18, with a market cap of $6.99b on revenues of $3.59b.


Tomorrow we’ll look at the Travelclick stats by channel for the hotel industry.  While they have not yet posted the 2nd Quarter data, it will give us additional insight into what is happening in the booking side of the business, which is way more important than traffic numbers.

Stay tuned.

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