Marriott International took the occasion of the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin to announce the first six locations for its budget Moxy brand.
The company expects to sign a further 13 hotels in Europe by the end of the year as it seeks traction for its newest flag in what, to it, is an unfamiliar segment.
Following the debut of Moxy Hotels this September at the Milan Malpensa Airport in Italy, the company plans to open five additional locations in key cities throughout Europe by 2015 including Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt, as well as Oslo. The Moxy Hotels website adds new locations coming soon in: London, Edinburgh, Brussels, Amsterdam, Malmo, Hamburg, Essen, Heidelberg, Ludwigshafen, Leipzig, Munich, Liverpool, York, Inverness, Cardiff and Dublin.
The current plan for Moxy Hotels is 150 hotels within the next 10 years, with the company noting that the economy tier in Europe represents nearly half of total room supply, yet only 20% of these hotels are branded. The brand is currently being developed in the European market only. Marriott International has the Fairfield Inn brand in the segment in the US, Canada and Mexico.
Amy McPherson, president and managing director of Marriott International in Europe, said:“The economy sector is the fastest growing segment in Europe, and we see tremendous opportunity to deliver a product that truly exceeds expectation. With the planned opening of the Moxy Milan Malpensa this year, we are hopeful that we can redefine economy travel for the next generation traveller.”
Moxy was created in partnership with Nordic Hospitality and with Inter Hospitality Holding as the owner and developer of the first six properties. Nordic, which is based in Norway, already operates hotels in Scandinavia under franchise agreements with Marriott International. Inter, based in the Netherlands, is currently focused on acquiring sites for hotel development in Germany, the UK, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Austria.
The brand was developed with the millennial traveller in mind, with each hotel designed with, the company said, the latest in technology so guests can connect amidst inviting social spaces with self-sufficient service elements.
In line with Marriott International’s drive to promote itself as a meetings venue, each Moxy Hotel will offer “Plug and Meet” meeting spaces throughout the public space, designed with ergonomic seating, writing walls and large television screens for presentation projection. The lobby space will also include state-of-the art computers available to guests and a 24/7 market for snacks on the go. Critically, given current customer demands, wifi will be free throughout the hotel.
Last year saw the group launch Workspace on Demand, an online booking platform for work and meeting spaces. The programme is largely focused on mobile workers, rather than groups of hundreds, with the company quoting figures from IDC which claim that, by 2015, 1.3 billion people worldwide will be mobile workers. The company extended the service in September 2013 to include more cities in the US and so far has not discussed extending it to Europe.
Earlier this year it announced that it was trialing a meeting planning website which allows customers to collaborate with hotels as well as sharing the process on social media sites.
As previously reported in Hotel Analyst the development team at Moxy Hotels will be looking for sites where they can develop 150 to 300 rooms, with specifications to meet the US LEED gold certification for energy efficiency.
“No design element was too small to test with these tech-savvy consumers,” said brand vice president Ramesh Jackson. “We learned that these confident explorers are wildly self-sufficient, but still want a chance to connect with each other in inviting social spaces, in person or digitally. Based on the concept test results, we believe Moxy will revolutionise the industry.”
Marriott International president & CEO Arne Sorenson added: “We believe Marriott will lead the way in redefining the traditional economy hotel experience throughout Europe. We expect a fast start and the exceptional customer service that is associated with all of Marriott’s brands.”
HA Perspective [by Katherine Doggrell]: Marriott is currently in the business of filling in the gaps in its portfolio and, having seen the Europeans’ taste for a bargain and for the clean lines and the implicit value of Ikea (no matter how oblique the link), Moxy looks set to fit the bill and saves them the effort of having to educate the consumer about Fairfield.
The benefits to the group’s wider system are clear. At the company’s fourth-quarter results, Sorenson said: “New brands such as Edition, Moxy and Autograph attract new guests and provide a halo to our entire system, and that system is doing very well”. With a massive global distribution system fully set up at the group, it can now slot brands in as and when it feels like it. A great lure to owners.
The CEO described Moxy as “opportunistic in the sense that with Inter IKEA, a real estate portfolio and one of our good franchise partners in Europe, we had been in discussions for a period of time about the need for the industry to reinvent the economy space in Europe, which was not a very appealing tale, and willingness on their part to put in a huge amount of capital to invest and to grow a new brand”.
The company is taking a similarly ‘easy come’ attitude to Fairfield in India, where it has around 10 in development. Sorenson said: “In some respects, it is not all that significant that we use the same word, Fairfield, in the US because it will be overwhelmingly a local brand, and it could have a different name”.
He added: “In the years ahead, we're hopeful that in China and other places of the Asia Pacific market, we will see opportunities to grow in sort of the moderate-tier market. Whether we do that with Fairfield or with Moxy or with other brands that are already within our portfolio or we add additional brands, only time will tell.”
Marriott may be overflowing with brands, but these new flags still need to build volume to be a success in and of themselves. In the economy sector, 150 in 10 years is no great shakes. Travelodge has over 500 hotels in the UK and Ireland. Premier Inn has over 650. If the company is looking for something more than an extra name, it may need to commit to more than chance.