订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业

为了抵挡Airbnb,这家酒店拼了 | 万豪报道

Shawn Tully 2017年09月03日

万豪正在启动一场历史性扩张,并自信满满地认为,有能力抵挡Airbnb咄咄逼人的攻势。

苏安励重回恒河岸边。他回忆起11年前携太太和四个孩子去印度圣城瓦拉纳西旅行的情景,“那是一种感官超载。”他的眼神恍惚间有些迷离。“神圣的火葬正在木材大火上进行,许多人在河里沐浴,还有一束束漂浮的蜡烛。”苏安励追忆说。一家人的导游是谢列斯博士。在苏安励夫妇看来,这位拥有贵族气质和邪恶笑声的博学智者,活脱脱就是“文森特·普莱斯的婆罗门版本”。整个经历“超级愉悦。”苏安励说。

作为酒店巨头万豪国际的首席执行官,苏安励已经让旅行成为他的工作。但只需跟他聊上几分钟,你很快就会发现,旅行也是他的个人爱好。在位于马里兰州贝塞斯达市的万豪总部,他的六楼办公室摆放着长矛和弓箭等狩猎工具。这些饰品皆是他的父母从新几内亚带回的——苏安励的父母是路德教会传教士,在日本将他抚养成人。墙壁上挂着许多关于他自身冒险经历的照片证据,其中有一组照片拍摄于乞力马扎罗山顶。苏安励表示,“探索新地方是我们一家人最难忘的相聚时光之源。”

苏安励坚称,有这种爱好的绝不止他一人。在世界各地,热爱旅行的人越来越多。事实上,他认为,全球旅游和酒店业正在重新进入一个黄金时代。苏安励指出,迅速壮大的中国新中产阶级是一个极其庞大的潜在游客群体,他们渴望到北京之外的世界走一走,看一看。至于美国的千禧一代,他认为他们更加青睐于创造记忆(并拍摄Instagram图片),而不是购物。“相较于购物欲望,他们更加渴望新鲜且令人兴奋的体验。”他说。

Arne Sorenson is back on the banks of the Ganges River. “It was sensory overload,” he says, a faraway look in his eyes as he recalls a trip to India’s holy city of Varanasi 11 years ago with his wife and their four children. “There were holy cremations being performed on timber fires, throngs of people bathing in the river, and clusters of floating candles.” The family’s guide, Sorenson recounts, was one Dr. Shailesh, a learned sage with an aristocratic air and a wicked laugh who reminded Sorenson and his wife of “a Brahman version of Vincent Price.” The overall experience, says Sorenson, was “super intense.”

As the CEO of hotel colossus Marriott International (mar), Sorenson has made travel his business. But spend a few minutes with him, and it quickly becomes clear that it’s also a personal passion. His sixth-floor corner office at Marriott’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md., is decorated with spears and bows and arrows that his parents, Lutheran missionaries who raised him in Japan, brought back from New Guinea. And the walls feature ample photographic evidence of his own adventures, such as a group shot taken at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Says Sorenson: “Exploring new places is the source of my family’s most unforgettable times together.”

And it’s not just him, insists Sorenson. A growing number of people worldwide share his passion. Indeed, Sorenson believes we are entering a new golden age in travel and hospitality. He points to China’s fast-­growing new middle class, a vast cohort of potential travelers who are eager to see the world beyond Beijing. Closer to home, he cites the preference of the millennial generation for making memories (and snapping Instagram pics) over shopping. “They want fresh, exciting experiences far more than they want to buy stuff,” he says.

万豪将中国视为下一个大市场。该公司正在上海建造一座五星级的JW万豪侯爵酒店和会议中心。
图片来源:Photograph by Stefen Chow
 

正是这种根深蒂固的信念,推动苏安励为他的公司策划了一笔震惊业界的转型交易:去年9月份,万豪斥资136亿美元收购了喜达屋酒店与度假村集团,由此为万豪的资产组合增添了瑞吉、威斯汀和W等标志性品牌,以及福朋这类有利可图的经济型酒店品牌。在这桩收购交易之前,万豪与希尔顿并列世界上最大的酒店公司。现在,它正式跻身为全球酒店业霸主。这笔交易为万豪新增38.144万间客房,其客房总数由此飙涨到120.3万间——比希尔顿的客房数量足足多了50%,比世界第三大酒店集团英国洲际酒店多了62%。现如今,万豪控制着北美地区七分之一的酒店,在全球酒店的占比高达十四分之一以上。

收购喜达屋,仅仅是万豪史诗般增长计划的开端。在今年的《财富》500强排行榜上,万豪凭借2016年斩获的170亿美元营收,位列第163位。现年58岁的索伦森承诺,万豪致力于在未来三年年均新增客房10万间——这一数字比万豪和喜达屋在2016年新开设的客房总和还要多。最令人震惊,或者说最可怕的统计数字是,在北美和全球范围内在建的所有酒店客房中,即将由万豪管理或特许经营的客房占比分别高达36%和23%。到目前为止,华尔街似乎赞成这个计划。截至5月底,万豪股价上涨了60%。相较之下,标准普尔500指数在过去一年仅上涨15%。

苏安励正在以业界领导者此前从未有过的决绝姿态,孤注一掷地豪赌酒店业。然而,万豪历史性扩张运动的成功,绝非板上钉钉之事。这家公司面临一些日益严峻的重大挑战。

对传统酒店行业最明显的威胁,当然是Airbnb和其他住宅分享业务的兴起。借助于这种商业模式,游客只需在塞纳河畔或迈阿密海滩预定一套家庭公寓,就可尽情享受当地的怡人风光。自2008年成立以来,Airbnb已经累计接待了1.6亿“宾客”,现在拥有300多万套,遍布全球6.5万座城市的房源。3月份,这家旧金山初创公司被投资者给予310亿美元的估值。在酒店类公司中,只有万豪拥有比它更高的市值(400亿美元)。

但来自数字世界的颠覆力量并不止于此。现如今,万豪比以往任何时候都更加明显地感受到在线旅行社(OTA)施加的压力。在Priceline集团和Expedia引领下,旅行网站销售的酒店客房占全球客房总销量的比例不断上升。(在今年的《财富》500强排行榜上,Priceline和Expedia分别位列第268位和第317位。)它们对于休闲旅客尤其有吸引力。例如,这些旅客可以利用Expedia来比较38.5万家酒店的价格和位置,其中当然包括万豪和其他酒店连锁品牌的库存。不断扩张的规模让在线旅行社获得了前所未有的影响力,这在一定程度上蚕食了万豪的地位。

“Airbnb和在线旅行社为我们的孩子而来。”酒店经营者伊恩·施拉格如是说道。他在20世纪80年代创建的Morgans酒店,事实上创建了精品生活方式这一酒店类型。现在,施拉格正在与万豪合作开发一个名为Edition的全新酒店品牌。“他们是最直接的致命威胁。”

另一个隐忧是,万豪正在最近一波酒店建造浪潮的尾声加大酒店建造力度。分析师警告称,这可能很快导致供应过剩。

所有这些似乎并没有吓倒苏安励。他喜欢引用宏大的预测数字来支持他的乐观主义。“真正的故事是,有财力旅行的游客每年都会新增数亿人。去年,世界各地的游客进行了12亿次国际旅行。到2030年,这个数字预计将达到18亿。所以,酒店将成为世界上最好的增长市场之一。”

尽管他信心满满,但苏安励深知,他不能仅仅建造酒店,坐等游客入住。为了充分利用喜达屋交易和他的扩张计划,万豪必须必须比以往任何时候都更加努力地吸引越来越变化莫测的旅客。因此,这家酒店巨头正在大力投资生活品牌,推广其奖励计划,并采取强硬手段对抗它的在线预定对手。所有这些努力是否足以让苏安励的大胆赌注获得回报?

喜达屋交易

当喜达屋在2015年初首次挂牌出售时,苏安励并不感兴趣。他认为,这场潜在合并交易的规模和复杂性将超过它的优势。但仅仅几个月后,恰恰是这笔交易的宏大规模,看上去反倒成为它的一个优点。“我当时正在和Expedia商谈一笔极其困难,几乎无法达成的交易。我认识到,在未来,我们需要更大的规模来阻止在线旅行社进一步侵蚀我们的客房预订份额。”他说。

This deeply held conviction is a major reason why Sorenson engineered a transformative deal for his company: the $13.6 billion acquisition last September of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which added such iconic brands as St. Regis, Westin, and W to Marriott’s roster, as well as profitable budget properties such as Four Points. Prior to the purchase, Marriott stood in a virtual tie with Hilton as the world’s largest hotel company. Now it towers over the field. The merger added 381,440 hotel rooms, swelling Marriott’s total portfolio to 1.203 million—50% larger than Hilton’s, and 62% greater than the room count at third-place InterContinental Hotels of the U.K. Today one in seven hotels in North America, and more than one in 14 worldwide, are controlled by Marriott.

The Starwood deal is just the beginning of an epic drive for growth at Marriott, which ranks No. 163 on this year’s Fortune 500 with $17 billion in 2016 revenues. Sorenson, 58, pledges to add, on average, around 100,000 rooms annually over the next three years, or 50% more than Marriott and Starwood combined opened in 2016. Here’s probably the most astounding (and maybe the scariest) statistic: 36% of all hotel rooms under construction in North America, and 23% worldwide, are slated to be managed or franchised by Marriott. So far, Wall Street seems to approve of the plan. As of late May, Marriott’s stock price had risen 60%, vs. a 15% gain for the S&P 500 over the past year.

Sorenson is going all in on hotels as no industry leader has ever done before. But the success of Marriott’s historic expansion campaign is far from a sure thing. The company faces a few major—and growing—challenges.

The most obvious threat to the traditional hotel industry, of course, is the rise of Airbnb and other home-sharing businesses that allow travelers to bask in a local scene by booking, say, a family’s flat on the Seine or a condo in Miami Beach. Since its founding in 2008, Airbnb has recorded more than 160 million “guest arrivals” and now has over 3 million listings worldwide in some 65,000 cities. In March the San Francisco startup was given a valuation of $31 billion by its investors. Among hotel companies, only Marriott’s $40 billion market value is bigger.

But the digital disruption doesn’t stop there. Marriott is feeling more pressure than ever today from online travel agencies, or OTAs. Led by the Priceline Group (No. 268 on this year’s 500 list) and Expedia (No. 317), travel sites are selling an increasing share of the world’s hotel rooms. They’re especially attractive to leisure travelers, who, for example, can tap Expedia to compare rates and locations for 385,000 properties, including inventory from Marriott and other major chains. The expanding scale of the OTAs gives them clout and undermines Marriott’s leverage.

“Airbnb and the OTAs are coming for our children,” says Ian Schrager, the hotelier who virtually invented the boutique lifestyle category with Morgans hotels in the 1980s and who’s now collaborating with Marriott on a new hotel brand called Edition. “They are a direct mortal threat.” (For more on Schrager, read "The Original Hospitality Disrupter.")

If that weren’t enough, Marriott is tripling down on new construction at the tail end of a recent hotel building boom—one that industry analysts warn could soon lead to a glut in supply.

None of this appears to daunt Sorenson, who loves citing big macro forecasts that support his optimism. “The story is the hundreds of millions of new people a year with the resources to travel,” he says. “Last year, travelers around the world made 1.2 billion international trips. By 2030, the number’s expected to reach 1.8 billion. So hotels will be one of the world’s best growth markets.”

As bullish as he is, Sorenson knows he can’t merely build hotels and wait for the travelers to come. To capitalize on the Starwood deal and his expansion plan, Marriott must battle harder than ever to lure a growing share of fickle travelers. So the hotel giant is investing heavily in lifestyle brands, boosting its rewards programs, and playing hardball with its online booking rivals. Will it be enough for Sorenson’s daring bet to pay off?

When Starwood first put itself up for sale in early 2015, Sorenson wasn’t interested. He thought the size and complexity of a potential merger would outweigh the advantages. But just a few months later, the very bigness of the move suddenly looked like a virtue. “I was negotiating an extremely difficult deal with Expedia that almost didn’t get done,” he says. “I recognized that in the future we’d need far larger scale to prevent the OTAs from taking a lot more of our share of bookings.”

苏安励在位于马里兰州贝塞斯达市的万豪总部。他是该公司历史上首位姓氏中没有“Marriott”的首席执行官。
图片来源:Melissa Golden
 

随着苏安励对喜达屋的了解越来越深刻,他愈加相信,它是一个非常理想的收购目标。喜达屋将带来酒店业最忠实的客户群:超级慷慨的喜达屋优先客人奖励计划拥有大批会员。“我确信,为了让客人直接通过我们(而不是在线旅行社)预订客房,我们需要一个更加强大的奖励计划。这是我们的护城河。”他说。

除忠诚度计划之外,喜达屋还拥有一个别具特色的酒店资产组合。在合并之前,万豪旗下19个品牌高度倾向于中档市场,其“精选服务”酒店主要面向对价格敏感,常年奔波在外的客户群,尤其是万怡酒店、费尔菲尔德套房酒店、居家酒店和春岭套房酒店。不少于53%的万豪客房集中在这些有限服务类别中。相比之下,在喜达屋旗下的11个品牌中,有超过四分之三的品牌要么是奢华酒店,比如瑞吉酒店,要么是所谓的高档酒店——介于真正的奢华类别和有限服务类别之间,包括威斯汀、艾美和喜来登等酒店品牌。

And the more Sorenson examined Starwood, the more he became convinced that it was an ideal takeover target for Marriott. Starwood would bring with it the most loyal clientele in the business: the members of its super-generous Starwood Preferred Guest rewards program. “I decided that to keep people booking directly through us and not the OTAs, we needed a more powerful rewards program,” says Sorenson. “It’s our moat.”

Along with the loyalty program came Starwood’s portfolio of chic, distinctive properties. Prior to the merger, Marriott’s 19 brands were highly tilted toward mid-market, “select service” properties catering to price-conscious road warriors—notably Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, and SpringHill Suites. No less than 53% of its rooms clustered in those limited-service categories. By contrast, well over three-quarters of Starwood’s 11-brand portfolio was either in luxury, with properties such as St. Regis, or so-called upper-upscale, the category between true luxury and limited service, consisting of brands like Westin, Le Meridien, and Sheraton.

新建筑墙壁上的标牌详尽展示出不同客房的设计方案。
图片来源:Photograph by Stefen Chow
 

生活方式酒店旨在让客人感觉到他们居住在一个充满乐趣,健康或具有美学高度的居所。苏安励相信,这种精心策划的服务方式将像磁石一般,吸引千禧一代入住。他说,如今的年轻旅行者想要的,绝不止是一张干净的床铺和一个送到客房的汉堡。酒店不仅应该拥有颇具设计感的装饰风格,还应该与社区联系在一起,甚至应该成为一个冒险伙伴。在位于迈阿密海滩的万豪Edition酒店,狂欢者手持鸡尾酒,在一个地下夜总会旁边的溜冰场上惬意地滑冰。

喜达屋交易为苏安励带来了两个颇有前途的新生活方式酒店品牌:源宿和雅乐轩。在生活方式类酒店中,源宿是唯一一家长住连锁酒店。许多新建的源宿连锁酒店将提供一项极其新颖的服务:4个房间聚集在一个公共休息室周围,旨在吸引为观看体育赛事或团聚而出行的团体——倘若没有这种服务,这些客户或许会选择合租一个Airbnb房源。另一方面,雅乐轩专为一些对商务旅客而言缺少休闲活动的中等城市量身打造。一大吸引力是一个经常举行卡拉OK之夜,并邀请当地音乐人演出,吸引大批当地人光顾的酒吧。在休息室,宾客们满对面地坐在真皮沙发上聊天,饮酒,或者打桌球,下国际象棋。现在,这两个品牌共拥有150家酒店。在接下来的三年中,这个数字预计会翻一番,客房总数将从2.5万间增至5万多间。

除千禧一代之外,这些高度个性化的酒店开始吸引越来越多更加年长的传统旅客。施拉格表示,所有的酒店都需要通过这种方式来留住现有客户,更别提吸引新客户了。他说,Airbnb可以提供一个宽敞的房子和一间舒适的卧室,但无法提供热闹非凡的大厅活动。“就连万怡酒店也不得不与时俱进。每个品牌都必须做一些Airbnb做不到的事情。这就是苏安励的使命。”他说。

轻资产模式

在万豪90年历史上,苏安励仅仅是第三位CEO,并且是首位姓氏中不带“Marriott”的CEO。他于1996年加入万豪,随后拾阶而上,最终在2012年执掌CEO权杖。他身材高大,和蔼可亲,无论是身穿牛仔裤和黑色牛仔靴,在达拉斯向一众万豪高管发表演说,还是身着西装,在他的办公室潜心工作,他看上去都同样地舒适自在。

在加入万豪之前,苏安励是华盛顿瑞生国际律师事务所的合伙人,专门从事兼并和收购诉讼业务。当这位前并购律师权衡喜达屋交易的时候,他认识到了另一个潜在的协同效应。像万豪一样,喜达屋也采用了在酒店业长期占据主导地位的轻资产模式。但苏安励感到,相较于喜达屋,万豪更加擅长金融攻防战,进而为他提供了一个提升喜达屋投资组合盈利能力的机会。

尽管它经常被描述为一家单调乏味,管理着千篇一律的物业的酒店运营商,但万豪(起源于1927年的万豪最初是一个麦根沙士路边摊)其实是美国酒店业最卓越的财务先锋之一。万豪模板的设计师是两位富有传奇色彩的首席财务官:20世纪70年代中期加盟万豪的加里·威尔逊,以及90年代初期接手的史蒂芬·博伦巴赫——他后来成为希尔顿酒店的掌门人。他们的核心原则是,万豪应该拥有尽可能少的实体酒店。相反,这家公司应该专注于两项业务:管理和特许经营他人拥有的酒店。时至今日,万豪仍然采用相同的运营模式。

对于它管理的美国酒店,万豪提供所有人员,从客房服务生到总经理。在总数高达22.65万的万豪员工大军中,这些“依附于物业”的员工大约有20万人。酒店业主向万豪全额报销这些人员的工资开支。万豪还以成本价提供其他主要服务:其一是销售和营销,包括向会议组织者批量销售客房。其二是管理两个尚未被合并的忠诚度计划:万豪礼赏计划和喜达屋优先顾客计划。第三项服务包括运营庞大的电话和Marriott.com预订系统——在万豪管理和特许经营的酒店中,至少有70%的客房是通过这套系统预定的。

这些物业为万豪提供了两个利润源泉:万豪收取大约相当于酒店总收入3%的管理费。此外,在酒店所有者首先提取一个最低限额收入之后,万豪还可以从美国物业中获得一笔相当于经营性现金流25%的奖励性费用。

对于它特许经营的物业,这套系统更简单一些——主要是因为业主要么自己经营酒店,要么将管理外包给承包商。所以,万豪不提供劳动力,但它的确以成本价提供忠诚度计划和预订系统的管理服务。特许经营者可以自己从事销售和营销工作,来吸引团队生意,也可以将这些工作外包给万豪。万豪的唯一利润源泉是一笔特许权使用费,相当于客房收入的5%到6%。万豪还提供支持服务。万豪加盟店MCR开发公司首席执行官泰勒·莫尔斯表示,“很简单,我之所以花钱让万豪帮助我填充客房,是因为这样做比我自己做营销,并付钱给在线旅行社更加便宜。”

这是轻资产模式的美妙之处:它使得万豪能够利用一小块资本推动特许权使用费收入迅速增长,而不必像其他开发商那样斥巨资建造越来越多的酒店以扩大业务规模。事实证明,苏安励特别擅长玩这种游戏。从他出任CEO的2012年到2015年,万豪从管理和特许经营中获得的收入,再加上诸如信用卡费用这类额外收入,增长了31%,达到20亿美元。

不论以哪种指标来评判,万豪的盈利能力都令人叹为观止。比如,其营业利润率徘徊在50%左右。原因是双重的。首先,万豪的开支增幅远远低于它获得的费用增幅,由此提供了强大的“经营杠杆”。其二,不同于房地产开发商,万豪受惠于最低限度的利息费用和折旧(这是资本成本的函数)。庞大的自由现金流使它能够回购大量股票。在苏安励的任期内,万豪的股票创造了高达23.1%的年化收益率。

Lifestyle hotels are designed to make guests feel that they’re staying in places catering to their fun-seeking, healthy, or aesthetically elevated lifestyles. Sorenson believes this curated approach will be a magnet for millennials. Today’s young travelers, he says, want more than a clean bed and a room-service burger. A hotel should not only feature designer decor but also connect with the community—and even be a partner in adventure. Revelers at Marriott’s Edition in Miami Beach skate around an ice rink next to a subterranean nightclub, cocktails in hand.

The Starwood deal has handed Sorenson two promising new lifestyle brands: Element and Aloft. Element is the only extended-stay hotel chain in the lifestyle space. And many of the new ones will have a completely novel offering: four rooms clustered around a communal lounge to attract groups traveling for sports events or reunions—customers who might otherwise rent an Airbnb together. Aloft, on the other hand, is tailored for midsize cities with fewer activities for business travelers. The central attraction is a bar that lures plenty of locals by offering karaoke nights and performances by the town’s musicians. Folks chat and drink in the lounge while shooting pool or playing checkers seated on facing leather sofas. Today the two brands have a total of 150 hotels. Over the next three years that number is expected to double, raising the room count from 25,000 to more than 50,000.

The growing shift toward these highly individualized venues is beginning to capture a growing number of older, traditional travelers as well as millennials. According to Schrager, all hotels will need to go this way to keep the clients they have now, let alone attract new ones. Airbnb can provide a house and a bedroom, he says, but not the beehive of activity in the lobby. “Even the Courtyards have to evolve,” he says. “Every brand needs to do something that Airbnb can’t do. That’s Arne’s mission.”

Sorenson is just the third CEO in Marriott’s 90-year history, and the first without the last name Marriott. He joined the company in 1996 and worked his way up through the executive ranks before taking over as CEO in 2012. Tall and affable, he looks equally as comfortable in jeans and black cowboy boots, addressing a group of Marriott execs in Dallas, as he does in a suit back in his office.

Prior to Marriott, Sorenson (whose first name is pronounced “Ar-nee”) was a partner at the law firm Latham & Watkins in D.C., where he specialized in merger and acquisition litigation. And as the onetime M&A lawyer weighed the Starwood deal, he recognized another bit of potential synergy: Like Marriott, Starwood employed the same asset-light model that has long ruled the industry. But Marriott, Sorenson felt, was a lot better at financial blocking and tackling than Starwood—creating an opportunity for him to boost the profitability of Starwood’s portfolio.

Although it’s often characterized as a plodding manager of cookie-cutter properties, Marriott—which started as a root beer stand in 1927­—is actually one of the great financial pioneers in U.S. industry. The architects of the Marriott template were two legendary CFOs: Gary Wilson starting in the mid-1970s, followed in the early 1990s by Stephen Bollenbach, who later went on to run Hilton. Their core principle was that Marriott should own as little real estate as possible. The company should instead focus on two lines of business: managing and franchising hotels owned by others. Marriott today is still run on the same model.

For its managed hotels, Marriott furnishes all personnel in the U.S., from the housekeepers to the general managers. Those “on-property” folks account for about 200,000 of its total workforce of 226,500. The owners of the properties reimburse Marriott for 100% of those personnel expenses. Marriott also provides other major services at cost: The first is sales and marketing, including selling blocks of rooms for conventions. The second is managing the two yet-to-be-merged loyalty programs—Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. The third consists of operating the gigantic phone and Marriott.com reservation system, the source of 70% or more of all managed and franchised bookings.

Marriott’s profit from these managed properties flows from two sources: It collects management fees of around 3% of total hotel revenues. And it also gets an incentive fee from U.S. properties of up to 25% of operating cash flow, over and above a minimum that owners pocket first.

For franchised properties, the system is simpler—chiefly because the owners either operate the hotels themselves, or outsource management to contractors. So Marriott doesn’t provide the workforce, but it does supply, at cost, management of the loyalty program and the reservation system. The franchisees can either do their own sales and marketing to attract group business, or outsource to Marriott. The profit comes from a franchise royalty fee that’s 5% to 6% of room revenue only. Marriott also provides support services. “It’s simple,” says Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR Development, a major Marriott franchisee. “I pay Marriott to fill my rooms because it’s cheaper than doing my own marketing and paying the OTAs.”

Here’s the brilliance of the asset-light model: It enables Marriott to rapidly grow fees using tiny dollops of capital rather than the huge investments that developers make to expand their business by building more and more hotels. Sorenson has proved to be a master at the game. From 2012, the year he became CEO, to 2015, Marriott’s fees from management and franchising, as well as such additional income including credit card fees, expanded by 31%, to $2 billion.

By any measure, Marriott’s profitability is stellar. Its operating margin, for example, hovers around 50%. The reason is twofold. First, its expenses have expanded a lot less than its fees, providing strong “operating leverage.” Second, unlike real estate developers, Marriott benefits from minimal interest expense and depreciation (a function of capital costs). And its huge free cash flow has enabled it to repurchase lots of shares. Over Sorenson’s tenure, Marriott’s stock has delivered total annualized returns of 23.1%.

上海浦东地区的天际线。
图片来源:Photograph by Stefen Chow
 

但在一段长达六年多的繁荣期之后,市场前景看上去相当不妙。问题在于:新酒店供应过剩。“在金融危机期间,大批早前建造的酒店纷纷开业,但开工建设的酒店非常少。”酒店业研究公司STR高级副总裁让·弗赖塔格说。“直到2011年或2012年,酒店建造热潮再次涌起。”拜这种时差所赐,从2011年到2015年,每年入市的客房供应量显著减少。客户预定客房的速度比酒店业主增添客房的速度更快。现在,随着一批新酒店相继开业,这种情况正在逆转。“供应将在2017年超越需求,这是最近几年来的第一次。”弗赖塔格说。

在苏安励雄心勃勃的增长计划上空,还笼罩着另一片乌云:在万豪主打的精选服务酒店领域,供过于求的问题尤其严重。在过去15年,万豪的主要增长引擎是北美地区的精选服务酒店——其主要品牌包括万怡酒店、费尔菲尔德套房酒店,以及提供长住服务的居家酒店。这些都是没有额外装饰,只提供基本服务的场所。比如,在费尔菲尔德,客人们是从金属罐中续满其塑料咖啡杯的,而早餐就是一块放入烤面包机的百吉饼。

金融危机爆发后,银行非常不愿意为昂贵的全方位服务类酒店提供贷款。万豪全球首席开发官托尼·卡波诺表示,“对于申请贷款的全方位服务类酒店,银行要求的股票质押比例从20%增长到40%。”但无论是对放贷人,还是对于酒店业主而言,精选服务酒店的风险性要低得多。一家提供全方位服务的万丽酒店的成本大约为5000万美元,而一家类似规模的费尔菲尔德套房酒店的成本则为1500万美元。换言之,每间客房的成本分别为25万美元和12万美元。精选服务类酒店过去是,现在仍然是更加有利可图的。“经营这类酒店只需要大约20名员工,而且它不需要配备成本不菲,占据大量客房空间的宴会厅或大厨房。”亚特兰大诺贝尔投资集团CEO米特·沙阿说。这家投资公司拥有大约30家万怡酒店和其他万豪精选服务酒店。“利润更具持续性,因为固定成本非常低。”

But after a half-dozen boom years, the market going forward looks a lot less favorable. The problem: a glut of new hotel supply. “In the financial crisis, loads of hotels that were started earlier opened, but very few got started,” says Jan Freitag, SVP of hospitality research firm STR. “It wasn’t until 2011 or 2012 that construction heated up again.” Because of the lag, the supply of rooms opening each year was depressed from 2011 to 2015. Customers were booking rooms faster than hotel owners were adding them. As a result, both occupancy and rates surged. Now that scenario is reversing as hotels in the pipeline begin to open. “For the first time in years, supply will outgrow demand in 2017,” says Freitag.

Further clouding Sorenson’s ambitious growth plan is that the looming oversupply problem is particularly acute in Marriott’s staple product: select service. During the past 15 years, Marriott’s prime growth engine has been select-service hotels in North America—led by Courtyard, Fairfield, and extended-stay entry Residence Inn. Those are the no-frills venues. In a Fairfield, for example, guests fill their plastic coffee cups from canisters, and breakfast is a bagel popped into a toaster.

After the financial crisis, banks became extremely reluctant to lend for expensive, full-service hotels. “The banks went from demanding 20% equity for a full-service hotel to 40%,” says Tony Capuano, Marriott’s global chief development officer. But select service was far less risky—both for lenders and owners. A full-service Renaissance could cost about $50 million, compared with $15 million for a similar-size Fairfield; that’s a cost difference per room of $250,000 vs. $120,000. Select service was, and still is, a lot more profitable. “You can run them with about 20 employees, and you don’t need ballrooms or big kitchens that cost a lot and take the place of rooms,” says Mit Shah, CEO of Noble Investment Group of Atlanta, which owns around 30 Courtyards and other Marriott select-service hotels. “The profits are a lot more consistent, because fixed costs are so low.”

所谓的生活方式品牌酒店,比如这家波士顿雅乐轩酒店就是是万豪增长计划的关键所在。
图片来源:Courtesy of Marriott

于精选服务酒店而言,最大的增长来自二级市场。这些市场拥有很大有些年头的全方位服务物业。卡波诺表示,“我们认为小市场服务不足。所以我们派人手持信用卡和地图去寻找最好的开店位置。”开发商们瞄准了北诸如达科他州迈诺特和密西西比州哈蒂斯堡这类城市。这项战略为万豪的扩张铺平了道路。从2011年1月至2016年末,收购喜达屋之前的万豪国际在北美地区新增了近9万间精选服务客房。

万豪正在指望这些“驮马”继续推动销量增长。在万豪目前拥有的43万间客房中,大约40%是费尔菲尔德套房酒店、万怡酒店和北美地区的其他精选服务品牌。这些酒店开始涌现在越来越多工业园区和数据中心对面的角落里——旁边经常一家希尔顿欢朋酒店或快捷假日酒店。

山间管理公司拥有或管理53家万豪精选服务酒店。其老板杜威·韦弗说,“我们正在迫近过度建设的状况。”在一些地方,比如密西西比州杰克逊和凤凰城,市场已经饱和。“我有两年都没买地了。”他说。

然而,万豪可以用极具增长前景的中国市场弥补美国酒店业的颓势给它带来的不利影响。酒店业的共识是,在未来十年,中国将成为世界上增长最快的酒店市场。与喜达屋合并之前,万豪在中国和亚洲地区的酒店布局相对较弱。相比之下,在这一区域,喜达屋是当仁不让的全球连锁酒店领导者——主要原因是,喜达屋旗下的喜来登酒店长期傲居该地区全方位服务品牌的头把交椅。尽管这笔交易推动万豪在大中华区的酒店数量飙涨170%,增至264家,但其资产组合主要是一些庞大的全方位服务类酒店,集中在香港、北京和天津等最大的门户城市。

但在如今的中国,蓬勃发展的领域是国内商务旅行。最繁荣的市场是大约15个人口在400万到1000万之间的城市,特别是温州和泉州等沿海大都市。这些二线城市的传统主导者是当地人拥有的经济型酒店。但日益富裕,品牌意识逐渐增强的中国旅行者渴望体验服务质量更高的酒店服务。对于万怡酒店、费尔菲尔德套房酒店和居家酒店这类供应商来说,这是一个巨大的机遇。

今天,万豪在中国提供的精选服务仅限于54家酒店。但在接下来的几年中,万豪的中国版图或许足以媲美它过去五年来在美国实现的巨大增长。2018年,万豪计划在中国开设56家酒店,其中包括21家精选服务酒店。其目标是,到2020年,在中国每年开设100家酒店。

在中国传播万豪品牌,也有助于推广这家酒店巨头的海外业务。中国的出境游客已经领先世界。每年有超过1亿中国人出国度假,或者因公出国。随着中产阶级预计将从如今的1亿人扩大到2020年的4亿人,围绕中国旅游业的全球市场将呈现井喷势头。万豪亚太区总裁克雷格·史密斯表示,“在中国扩张的一个重要目标是,让国内旅客熟悉万怡和万豪等品牌。当他们出国旅行时,他们往往会寻找相同的品牌。”

Airbnb不足为虑?

尽管许多酒店业内人士和外部观察家将Airbnb视为一股强大的颠覆性力量,但令人惊讶的是,苏安励本人对这家9年前成立的初创企业构成的威胁颇为不屑。他说,“我们认为Airbnb的主要受众群体是预算有限的休闲游客。正是由于旅行成本突然变得可以承受,他们才选择做出此前不可想象的出行决定。”

对于这样一份声明,你很难不将它视为一种小花招——有礼貌地挖苦一股强势崛起的新生力量。但至少就目前而言,苏安励仍然是从一个强势地位上发表上述观点的。鉴于酒店入住率和客房价格仍然处于创纪录水平,鲜有证据显示,Airbnb正在从苏安励手中(特别是万豪旗下的高价位酒店品牌)抢走大笔生意。

真正令苏安励忧心忡忡的是在线旅行社,因为它们可能会破坏万豪向其酒店业主表述的价值主张。对于酒店业主来说,由Expedia.com和Priceline.com领衔的在线旅行社正在变得越来越有价值——他们可以利用这一渠道来填补万豪预订系统留下的客房缺口。但对于每一间预定的客房,业主需要向在线旅行社支付一笔费用(在他们已经向万豪支付了一笔费用的基础上)。危险在于,酒店业主未来有可能抛弃万豪(以及它的费用),完全利用在线旅行社预订系统。

The biggest growth in select service came in secondary markets, many of which had lots of older, full-service properties. “We figured out that the small markets were underserved,” says Capuano. “So we sent out people with a credit card and a map to find the best locations.” The developers targeted such cities as Minot, N.D., and Hattiesburg, Miss. The strategy spearheaded Marriott’s expansion. From January 2011 to year-end 2016, the pre-Starwood Marriott added nearly 90,000 select-service rooms in North America.

Marriott is counting on the same workhorse to continue driving unit growth. Of its current pipeline of 430,000 rooms, around 40% are Fairfields, Courtyards, and other select-service brands in North America. The hotels are already popping up on more and more corners opposite industrial parks and data centers, often with a Hampton by Hilton or Holiday Inn Express across the street.

“We’re close to being in an overbuilding situation,” says Dewey Weaver, the owner of InterMountain Management, a firm that owns or manages 53 Marriott select-service hotels. Weaver says that in places like Jackson, Miss., and Phoenix, the market is already saturated. “I haven’t bought land in two years,” he says.

Marriott, however, could compensate for a U.S. slowdown with gigantic growth in what will, over the next decade, be the world’s fastest-growing major hotel market: China. Prior to the merger, Marriott was relatively weak both in China and across Asia. Starwood, by contrast, was the leader in the region among global chains, thanks to Sheraton’s long-standing position as a top full-service brand. Although the deal lifted Marriott’s hotel count by 170% to 264 in greater China, its portfolio is mainly big, full-service hotels concentrated in the biggest gateway cities such as Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tianjin.

The thriving segment in China today, however, is domestic business travel. And the boom markets are the 15 or so cities with populations between 4 million and 10 million—notably coastal metropolises such as Wenzhou and Quanzhou. Traditionally dominating those secondary cities are locally owned, super-budget venues. But the increasingly affluent, brand-conscious Chinese road warriors crave a step up in quality. And that’s a huge opportunity for the purveyor of Courtyard, and Fairfield and Residence inns.

Today, Marriott’s select-service offering in China is limited to 54 hotels. But its runway the next several years could rival the huge growth in the U.S. over the past half-decade. In 2018, Marriott plans to open 56 hotels in China, including 21 in select service. Its goal: to open 100 hotels annually in China by 2020.

Spreading the Marriott brands in China also boosts business abroad. The Chinese already lead the world in outbound travel. More than 100 million Chinese a year vacation or do business overseas. And as the middle class expands from 100 million to an estimated 400 million by 2020, the global market in Chinese tourism will explode. “A big goal of expanding in China is making domestic travelers familiar with Courtyard, Marriott and our brands,” says Craig Smith, Marriott’s president for the Asia Pacific region. “They tend to seek out the same brands when they travel abroad.”

While many inside and out of the hotel industry view Airbnb as a formidable disruptive force, Sorenson is surprisingly dismissive of the threat posed by the nine-year-old startup. “We see Airbnb as mainly lower-priced leisure travel, where people make trips they otherwise wouldn’t make because it’s suddenly become so affordable,” he says.

It’s hard not to view such a statement as a bit of gamesmanship—a polite dig at an upstart. But for now at least, Sorenson is still speaking from a position of strength. With hotel occupancy and room rates at record levels, evidence is scant that Airbnb is taking lots of Sorenson’s business, especially from the higher-priced brands in the Marriott portfolio.

What really worries Sorenson are the OTAs, because they could potentially undermine Marriott’s value proposition to its hotel owners. Sites like Expedia.com and Priceline.com have become increasingly valuable to owners as a way to fill in gaps between the bookings that come from Marriott’s system. But for every room booked, the owners pay a fee to the OTA—on top of what they’re already paying to Marriott. The danger is that down the road owners might start deciding to drop Marriott (and its fees) and go exclusively with OTA bookings.

正在兴建的五星级上海JW万豪侯爵酒店和会议中心。
图片来源:Photograph by Stefen Chow
 

这就是为什么苏安励在2015年底率先与Expedia进行谈判。他认为,在线旅行社正在获得影响力。“在我们销售的客房中,在线旅行社的预定占比仅为8%左右,但相较于三四年前的4%,这项比例增长迅猛。我认为它还持续增长。”他说。

在苏安励的领导下,万豪品牌的业主形成了一条统一战线。他们的立场是,如果Expedia拒绝做出苏安励要求的让步,这些业主将集体撤离Expedia的预订平台。直到截止日期之前的24小时,谈判双方一直处于对峙状态。Expedia最终打破僵局,做出多项让步,比如将面向酒店业主收取的预定费从16%降至12%。就这样,苏安励成功地发动了一场政变,进一步夯实了业主对万豪的依赖。

到目前为止,苏安励的打造规模战略正在产生效果。在线旅行社的预定份额仍然保持在8%左右,更多的新酒店正在与万豪和其他品牌的酒店经营者签约。万豪表示,合并后的奖励计划比以往任何时候都增长得更快——每月约有100万新会员加入。只要这些高利润的直接预订保持强劲势头,万豪的业主们就会开心,其业务将保持健康。

令苏安励自豪的是,尽管谈判非常艰辛,但他投入了同样多的精力去寻找快乐——当然是通过旅行。

在他的办公室,他向《财富》讲述了一组拍摄于乞力马扎罗山的照片的故事。2010年,苏安励夫妇与孩子们一道前往非洲攀登这座山脉。在海拔1.9万英尺,距离顶峰仅剩下500英尺的一个火山口,他们度过了一个极具挑战性的夜晚。“我们都出现了高原反应。”苏安励回忆说。进行最后的攀登时,“导游不停地用斯瓦希里语提醒我们,‘慢点,慢点!’”当他们最终到达顶峰时,苏安励一家人站在一起,沉浸在胜利的喜悦中。

现在,苏安励已经将万豪带到酒店世界之巅。他面临的挑战是,如何让这家酒店巨头永立潮头。(财富中文网)

原文刊载于2017年6月15日出刊的《财富》杂志。

译者:Kevin

That’s why Sorenson led the charge for hotels in the negotiations with Expedia in late 2015. He saw that the travel sites were gaining leverage. “The OTAs were only booking about 8% of our rooms,” he says, “but that was up from 4% three or four years earlier, and I thought it would keep growing.”

Led by Sorenson, the owners of Marriott brands formed a united front. Their position: If Expedia declined to make the concessions Sorenson was demanding, the owners would pull their offerings from Expedia en masse. The negotiations were in a standoff until 24 hours before the deadline. Expedia finally broke the deadlock by giving ground and, for instance, reducing the booking fee for owners from around 16% to 12%. And Sorenson scored a coup that bound owners more tightly than ever to Marriott.

So far, Sorenson’s strategy of building scale is working. The OTAs’ share of bookings remains flat at around 8%, and more new hotels are signing with Marriott and other branded hoteliers than ever before. The combined rewards programs are growing faster than ever, says Marriott, at around 1 million new members a month. As long as those higher-margin direct bookings remain strong, Marriott’s owners will be happy and its business healthy.

As hard as he negotiates, Sorenson prides himself on putting just as much energy into seeking out fun—through travel, of course.

Back in his office, he’s telling the story of the group photo on Kilimanjaro. Arne, his wife, and their children made the climb in 2010. They spent a challenging night in a crater at 19,000 feet, some 500 feet below the peak. “We were all suffering from altitude sickness,” recalls Sorenson. As they made the final ascent, “the guide kept saying ‘Poli, poli!’ ”—meaning “Slowly, slowly” in Swahili. When they finally got to the summit, Sorenson and his family stood together and soaked in the triumph.

Now he’s taken Marriott to the top of the hotel world. The challenge will be keeping it there.

A version of this article appears in the June 15, 2017 issue of Fortune with the headline "Marriott Goes All In."

我来点评

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏