Picture: Reuters
Picture: Reuters

Hilton has extended its lead as the world’s most valuable hotel brand, while the total value of its brand portfolio within the Brand Finance Hotels 50 ranking has overtaken Marriott’s.

The latest report by consultancy Brand Finance says Hilton’s brand value growth (up 17% to $7.4bn) was largely driven by a strong revenue increase over the past year, cementing its leadership spot in the industry. Hilton has a strong presence in SA. (See graphic.)

It is also making major inroads into the African market through the Hilton Garden Inn chain, opening four properties with 14 more in the pipeline.

Many of these represent first-in-country openings for Hilton Garden Inn and for the Hilton enterprise as a whole, including Botswana, Zambia and Uganda.

Speaking at the recent Africa’s Travel Indaba, John Greenleaf, global head of Hilton Garden Inn, said Hilton Garden Inn has developed a prototype specifically for the region "while maintaining the brand’s signature light, bright and airy design [and] consistent, core guest offerings and amenities that the brand is recognised for around the world".

Marriott’s brand value dropped 8% to $5bn and its brand strength is down from AAA-to AA+. Marriott has faced several challenges in the North American market, from hacking scandals to persistent problems with its loyalty schemes. The combined value of Marriott’s brands within the Brand Finance Hotels 50 ranking decreased 30%, giving way to Hilton’s brand portfolio to claim the title of the world’s most valuable.

"Hilton’s strategic approach to brand growth has allowed it to extend its lead as the world’s most valuable hotel brand," says Savio D’Souza, Brand Finance valuation director. "At the same time, endorsement from the flagship brand has rendered benefits across the portfolio, as Homewood Suites, DoubleTree, and Hampton have seen their brand values soar. In its centennial year, Hilton is well-positioned for another 100 years of success."

The combined value of all hotel brands in Hilton’s portfolio is $14.7bn, nearly $2bn more than Marriott’s $12.9bn portfolio. Hilton Worldwide Holdings’ overall brand value grew 41%, while Marriott International’s brand portfolio fell 30%. Hilton’s brand value in the top 50 is concentrated across six brands, up from five in 2018, all strongly leveraging the valuable Hilton name and each recording solid growth this year.

Marriott’s recent entry into the home rental market could result in it taking back market share from Airbnb and lifting its brand value.

The Hilton and Marriott portfolios remain well ahead of third-ranked Wyndham, which had an 8% drop in brand value to $7.3bn.

Aside from calculating overall brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands based on marketing investment, stakeholder equity and business performance. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value. On these criteria, Mercure is the world’s strongest hotel brand, significantly improving its brand strength index score from 75.7 to 86.2 out of 100, and brand rating from AA+ to AAA.

Mercure is also the most valuable brand in French multinational hospitality company Accor’s portfolio, with nearly 800 hotels. Mercure has made several acquisitions through its franchise growth scheme.