WAJAİQU CİTY-Wyndham Hotel Group has opened its 1,000th hotel in Greater China, making it the first global hospitality company to reach that milestone.
This month, the company opened two new hotels, including the 227-room Wyndham Urumqi North in Wajaiqu City and the 389-room Wyndham Qingdao, located in Qingdao's Chengyang economic zone. The 250-room Ramada Plaza Changsha South was the 1,000th Wyndham to open this week.
The company, the largest hotel operator in the world by number of properties, now has six of its 15 brands in China. The hotels are located in 260 cities and 30 properties.
Wyndham opened its first hotel in China in 1998, but most of the properties have been built in the last three years, says Wyndham Hotel Group CEO Geoff Ballotti.
"We have strong partners, strong developers over there," Ballotti says, "There's just a great demand for western brands."
The largest hotel chains in the USA have been rapidly building hotels in China despite concerns over that country's slowing economy. Many are looking to more than double their presence there.
InterContinental Hotels Group, the largest hotel company in the world by room numbers, has 241 hotels open in the region, with another 205 in the pipeline. The company had eight openings and 31 signings in the first half of this year alone.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts has 150 hotels in the region and 160 in the pipeline. Marriott has 84 hotels there and plans to open about 140. Hilton has more than 50 hotels, and 180 in the pipeline. Hyatt has 31 hotels.
Since 2010, the number of hotels run by U.S. companies in China has more than doubled, from 941 to 2,006, according to Lodging Econometrics. The number of rooms operated by U.S. is 472,345.
Bruce Ford, senior vice president at Lodging Econometrics, says the majority of the rooms are in the select service and economy sector.
But, he says, "as the hotel market matures throughout many cities in China, the new hotels will continue to diversify in more chain scales."
Later this year, Wyndham will introduce three more brands to China: TRYP by Wyndham, Wyndham Garden and Microtel Inn & Suites.
"While I know a lot of people are worried about the Chinese economy—GDP has drifted a bit lower--it's still, compared to most countries in the world, strong," Ballotti says. "Tourism is strong."
So is business travel. China business travel will increase by 61% over the next five years, from $261 billion in 2014 to $420 billion in 2019, according to the Global Business Travel Association. That spike will surpass the increases in business travel growth in the next eight largest countries combined, including the USA, Germany, India, the United Kingdom., Indonesia, France, Turkey and Japan.
Much of Wyndham's growth has happened in upper scale brands like Wyndham Grand, a change from the luxurious properties travelers have normally been attracted to in China. He attributed that to business travelers having to show more austerity because of the economy.
"There are a lot of people, a lot of business folks, switching ... who would have stayed in the past in luxury space," he says.
Ballotti says the company has more than 100 hotels in the pipeline.
"The travel patterns are really very strong, and I think the next 5 years, no matter what tourism statistic you read, are incredibly encouraging," Ballotti says.