This week Nasa’s Perseverance rover sent its first images of Mars, and the world was fascinated by a sight that seems currently just as inaccessible as a beach in the Mediterranean. Who will be opening the first hotel there? My money is on Hilton, the brand of choice for fictional space hotels, from 2001 A Space Odyssey to the moon as discussed in Mad Men.
But back to Earth, where more companies announced their 2020 financial results this week. While they showed a bleak picture (the phrase ‘unprecedented challenges’ showed no sign of going away), they tried to focus on a positive outlook. That is: we all need a holiday, and hotels are ready to welcome us with open arms and face masks as soon as various governments’ policies and vaccine deployment allow.
IHG Hotels & Resorts saw the positive in its strong presence in China, while Europe lagged behind the worldwide average, and trading was a little better in the US. CEO Keith Barr remained confident about the sector, saying: “our industry has recovered strongly from previous cyclical and exogenous events, and the long-term attractiveness of our industry and future growth potential remains unchanged”.
Spanish hotel company NH Hotel Group also saw severe losses but CEO Ramon Aragonés believes in the company’s “flexible operating structure” enables it to manage the challenging situation.
Accor tempered the announcement of losses by saying it saw signs of significant recovery in all regions. CEO Sebastien Bazin warned the sector “Don’t be late for the rebound”.
Also ready to rebound, and arguably in a better position than others, was Airbnb, who announced lower-than-anticipated losses and led CEO Brian Chesky to say “we are laser-focused on preparing for the travel rebound”
Ready to take on the challenge and with big shoes to fill, Anthony “Tony” Capuano was announced this week as Arne Sorenson’s successor at the helm of Marriott International, while Stephanie Linnartz becomes President.