The hospitality industry has enjoyed significant growth in recent years. Bolstered by a strong economy, travel and tourism, in particular, are benefiting from a surge in business travel and the increasing emergence of the millennial customer segment. Contributing to the expansion is new demand arising from emerging and further developing markets. In 2017, China’s booming economy led to world-leading spending on tourism, totally $258 billion. As a whole, the hospitality industry adds $3.4 trillion to the global economy yearly.
Here is a list of the top ten hotel chains in the world (by revenue as of June 2018), four of which are still partially owned by the founding families.
Revenue: $2.2 billion
Number of Employees: 192,627
Paul Dubrule and Gérard Pélisson opened their first Novotel in 1967, establishing a new hotel business model in France. Today, with 33 global brands including Fairmont, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Ibis, Novotel and China’s Huazhu, AccorHotels brings together 4,500 addresses in 100 countries.
Headquartered in Paris, Accor is the largest hotel group in the world outside of the United States. Furthering their expansion, in May 2018, the company acquired Mantra Group, adding 134 properties and making AccorHotels the largest hotel operator in Australia.
9. Oriental Land
Revenue: $4.3 billion
Number of Employees: 4,348
Founded in 1960 by Chiharu Kawasaki, then president of Keisei Electric Rail Company Ltd., and Hideo Edo Landwith, president of Mitsui Fudosan Company Ltd., Oriental Land Group began as a land reclamation project with the aim of contributing to Japan’s culture, health and welfare. The company initially set out to develop land off the coast of Urayasu through commercial, residential and major leisure facilities.
Today, the company operates primarily through its theme park and hotel divisions, which include Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, Disney Ambassador Hotel, Tokyo Disney Sea Hotel Mira Costa, and Palm and Fountain Terrace Hotel.
8. Shenzhen Overseas
Revenue: $4.3 billion
Number of Employees: 25,130
Headquartered in Shenzhen, China, Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Co., Ltd. is a subsidiary of the state-owned Overseas Chinese Town Enterprises. Founded in 1997, the company operates several hospitality and tourism segments, including travel agencies, real estate development and hotel management.
In 2018, the company continued its expansion with a high-profile real estate purchase, securing two commercial parcels near Shenzhen’s up-and-coming financial center in Qianhai, across the bay from Hong Kong.
7. Hyatt Hotels
Revenue: $4.4 billion
Number of Employees: 45,000
Hyatt Hotels Corp. manages Hyatt hotels, resorts and properties under its established brands including Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place and Hyatt House.
The company was founded by Jay Pritzker in 1957 when he purchased the Hyatt House motel adjacent to the Los Angeles International Airport. He and his brother, Donald Pritzerk, grew the family business into one of North America’s largest management and hotel ownership companies. After years of expansion through a number of separate companies, the hospitality assets owned by the Pritzker family were consolidated under a single entity in 2004. Today, Hyatt Hotels Corporation operates 14 brands and over 600 properties in more than 54 countries.
Many of the Pritzker family still have stakes in the company, but only Thomas Pritzker, son of founder Jay, maintains an active role as the hotel group’s executive chairman.
6. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings
Revenue: $5.5 billion
Number of Employees: 31,000
Starting with one ship in 1966, Norwegian Cruise Line, originally Norwegian Caribbean Line, was established through a partnership between Carnival Cruise Line founder Ted Arison and Norwegian shipping magnate Knut Kloster. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Miami, Florida.
Today, Norwegian Holdings operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands. The company boasts a fleet of 26 ships, comprising approximately 54,400 berths and more than 450 destinations worldwide.
Norwegian will introduce a new “Breakaway Plus” Class cruise ship in 2019 and has six additional ships on order for delivery beginning in 2022.
5. Wyndham Destinations
Revenue: $5.5 billion
Number of Employees: 39,200
Founded in 1981 by Trammell Crow as the Wyndham Hotel Corporation, Wyndham Destinations now offers a broad array of hospitality services and products through its three business segments: Wyndham Vacation Clubs, RCI Exchanges and Wyndham Vacation Rentals.
Formally Wyndham Worldwide, the company restructured in 2018 and is now the world’s largest vacation ownership and exchange company, with more than 220 vacation ownership resorts and over 4,300 affiliated exchange properties in 110 countries. The company serves 3.5 million families yearly and is considered North America’s largest professionally managed rental business.
4. Royal Caribbean Cruises
Revenue: $8.8 billion
Number of Employees: 66,000
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. operates five companies that have served more than 50 million guests over the past 50 years. Founded in 1968 by three shipping companies in Norway, Royal Caribbean Cruises is now headquartered in Miami, Florida.
In addition to its wholly owned brands – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises, Pullmantur, and Croisières de France – the company is partnered with TUI Cruises, offering unique onboard activities, such as ice skating, rock climbing, simulated surfing and Las Vegas-style entertainment.
With its 2018 purchase of a 66.7 per cent equity stake in privately owned Silversea Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises will call to over 1,000 destinations on all seven continents.
Revenue: $9.1 billion
Number of Employees: 163,000
In 1919, Conrad Hilton bought his first property, the Mobley Hotel, in Cisco, Texas. But it wasn’t until the Dallas Hilton in 1925 that he would open the first hotel to bear his iconic name. Hilton went on to become the world’s first international hotel chain with the opening of its Puerto Rico, Caribe Hilton Hotel location in 1949.
Today, Hilton operates more than 540 hotels and resorts in 78 countries on six continents. The Hilton portfolio also includes 14 well-known brands such as DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hampton and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. Altogether, Hilton’s properties comprise more than 5,100 locations and 838,000 rooms in 103 countries and territories.
Now known as Hilton Worldwide, the multinational continues to pursue its founder’s mission of international expansion with the opening of the company’s first locations in Bangladesh and Serbia in 2018.
Revenue: $18 billion
Number of Employees: 99,200
Introduced to the world in 1972 by its founder, Ted Arison, as The Fun Ships, Carnival began with a single converted ocean liner named the Mardi Gras. The ship featured innovative elements and an onboard ambiance that set it apart from other industry offerings. Today, Carnival maintains a fleet of 26 cruise ships that carry millions of passengers every year. The popular cruise line sails to the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe, in addition to three ships out of Sydney and Melbourne that call on New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and Singapore.
Building on its Carnival Cruise Line flagship brand, Carnival Corporation was created in 1994, after an initial public offering of 20 per cent in 1987 fuelled the company’s expansion and acquisition strategy. Based in Miami, Carnival Corporation now controls eight cruise brands, including some of the world’s most recognizable, such as Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Costa.
In 2018, the company launched its new Carnival Horizon cruise ship, featuring a Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement program that continues the revolutionary tradition of the company’s founder. Micky Arison, son of Ted Arison, remains CEO of this world leading family-run business.
1. Marriott International
Revenue: $22.3 billion
Number of Employees: 177,000
Founded in 1927 by J. Willard Marriott and his wife, Alice, Marriott began as an A&W root beer stand in Washington D.C. They soon expanded into a chain of Hot Shoppes restaurants and laid the foundation for Marriott’s legacy of hospitality. The company purchased its first motor hotel in 1957 in Arlington, Virginia, and began its lodging strategy under the guidance of J. Willard’s son, J.W. “Bill” Marriott.
In the late 80s, Marriott adopted its model of brand diversification under its single company banner. Today, Marriott offers 30 different brand experiences, including Delta, Sheraton, Westin, and W, totaling over 6700 properties in 129 countries and territories, which makes it the world’s largest travel company.
In 2012, after more than 90 years of founding family leadership, Chairman and CEO Bill Marriott named Arne Sorenson as his successor. The Marriott family still owns 25 percent of the company.