Global Hospitality Industry: PESTLE and Porter’s Five Forces Analysis

The global hotel industry was one of the most rapidly growing industrial sectors in the world up until the last year (Lock, 2020). Currently, the total size of the industry is estimated to be up to $525 billion and accounts for as much as 18 million rooms (IHG, 2020). More than half of the industry is dominated by global or regional hotel chains, with big names such as Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, IHG, and Wyndham, owning up to 25% of the market share. Based on room revenue, the largest market for hotels currently is the US, while China is also gradually growing in this regard (IHG, 2020).

The growth of the global hotel industry has been significantly affected by several events during the last year. The most influential of these events include the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic recession. The current article assesses the current market environment in the global hotel industry.

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Forces of Change in the Global Hotel Industry

PESTLE and Porter’s Five Forces analysis would be conducted in this section in order to understand the changed market conditions of the global hotel industry.

PESTLE

Political

The recent drive towards globalization has been one of the essential factors contributing to increased international travel, both for tourism and business purposes (Rodrik, 2010). Only in the last decade, the number of international travellers has increased from 956 million in 2010 to 1.460 billion in 2019 (World Bank, 2020a). However, this trend of globalization is under threat from the increasing popularity of alt-right politics in some of the wealthiest and advanced countries of the world (Hays, Lim, & Spoon, 2019). The election of President Trump and the British populace’s decision for Brexit are two of the indicators of this increasing popularity of alt-right politics. In the USA, President Trump’s series of executive orders, collectively known as the “Muslim ban”, has already banned the entry of individuals from several countries, and thus has significantly affected the business of hotels and BnB spots (Amnesty International, 2020). As the wealthiest countries opt for populist, right-wing leaders, there will be more and more barriers to international travelling, which will significantly affect the businesses operating within the hospitality industry.

The political situation in Oman, however, is relatively stable, which allows for the growth of all businesses. The one government policy that would adversely affect the hotel industry is that of Omanization drive as English speaking Omani youth are not available in large numbers, a reason why Omanization level in the hotel industry is among the lowest in Oman (Nair, 2019). One positive political development that will facilitate the hotel industry in Oman is the Vision 2040, which aims to diversify the Omani economy by emphasizing sectors like tourism and entertainment (Corder, 2020).

Economic

After years of growth, the global economy is currently pressurised by the Covid-19 pandemic and is projected to shrink by 3.2% by the end of the year (United Nations, 2020). Although the global recession has affected almost every business industry, the hospitality industry has received the heaviest blow as the travelling and tourism business entirely came to a standstill. According to a study, businesses in the European hospitality industry are expected to see a profit decline of up to 29% due to the pandemic (Dogra, 2020). There is a similar trend in other parts of the world, and the decline of the hospitality industry profits is expected to result in a loss of around 4 million jobs in the US (Dogra, 2020). The reduction in travellers’ spending power has also considerably lessened the revenues of hotels and other businesses in the sector.

The economic situation of Oman has also been undergoing a period of recession. The country has been significantly affected by the rapid fall in oil prices during the current year (Credendo, 2020). Thus, in addition to the shock of Covid-19 restrictions on trade and tourism, the kingdom has been more critically affected by the drop in oil prices. This will ultimately affect the hotel industry in the form of lesser domestic customers.

Social

Although the government-imposed lockdowns have had the greatest impact on hotels following COVID-19, the majority of people themselves are also not yet ready to start travelling internationally (World Tourism Organization, 2020). This has been evident in the case of the countries which have fared somewhat better and have started giving tourist visas to citizens from around the world. Despite the opening up of travel restrictions, tourist activity in these countries is noticeably limited (World Tourism Organization, 2020). However, before the COVID-19 outbreak, the domestic Omani tourists were more willing to travel within their country, owing to the increased governmental attention towards tourism (Corder, 2020).

Another factor that was having an impact on the performance of hotels even before the pandemic outbreak was the increasing popularity of cheaper alternative options like ‘bed and breakfast’ providing spots. The ease of use and cost-effectiveness of services like Airbnb is directly affecting the markets of middle range hotels. From 25 million bookings in 2015, Airbnb had grown to around 187 bookings in 2019 (Curry, 2020).

Technological

One of the most significant technological developments that have affected the hospitality industry is the internet and social media. In recent years, there has been a boom in the development and popularity of online hotel booking applications and websites, like Booking.com and Expedia. These platforms provide all the necessary information that a customer needs, in regards to his hotel choice, in an easily accessible manner (Khwaldeh et al., 2020). The customer can compare all the different aspects of a hotel like room rent, facilities offered, location, etc., and then easily choose the best available option. Thus, these applications and websites have made the hospitality industry highly competitive, and the businesses operating within this sector have to offer the best mixture of price, facilities, location, and ambience, to even survive in the market (Khwaldeh et al., 2020). In Oman, AirBnB is also following a similar trend and becoming a problematic indirect competitor for hotels.

Another way in which the hospitality industry has been affected by the internet is by increasing the number of platforms for reviewing a hotel’s performance (Khwaldeh et al., 2020). These comments and reviews significantly affect the choices of the potential customers of these hotels, so hotels and other similar businesses have to ensure that they remain in the good books of these critics.

Legal

Like any other sector or industry, businesses operating within the hospitality industry are also significantly affected by the laws and regulations of the states in which they are working. Big companies which have a presence in more than one country are particularly prone to be affected by the different laws prevalent in different countries. Although some of the most critical legislations about the treatment of guests and maintaining food standards are somewhat common in most countries, still these international businesses have to maintain legal teams separately in every country to handle their legal matters. In Oman, a particular law affecting businesses is that of Omanization, which stipulates organizations to maintain a specific number of Omani employees under the Royal Decrees No34-73 (Nair, 2019). One of the essential duties of hotels under the ‘Hospitality Laws’ in the U.S is to ensure the safety of their guests and avoiding the leakage of confidential information about their customers (Barth and Hayes, 2005).

Environmental

The increased tourist activity in naturally scenic places often results in a mushrooming of hotels in the area, which not only affects the beauty of the landscapes but also adversely affects the natural bio-ecosystems. This increased commercialization of natural landscapes is particularly dangerous for any wild animals, plants, or other microorganisms living in the area which may become extinct (Holden, 2019). This cause-and-effect phenomenon has led to increased voices from forums like the UN and WWF to call for hotels to become more environmentally sustainable and plan their activities while keeping the effects of operations on the environment in mind.

Furthermore, big hospitality businesses like Marriott and Hilton are leading the way in making their day to day operations more environmentally sustainable. The most visible actions in these regards include reductions in the carbon emissions and wastage, effective management of energy and water use, and partnering with environmentally responsible suppliers, etc. (Marriott, 2020).

Figure 1: PESTLE Analysis of the Global Hotel Industry

Porter’s Five Forces

Threat of New Entrants

The threat of new entrants in any industry is determined by the characteristics of the industry including the size and scope of the operations required for a viable business, cost advantages, and capital requirements, etc. (Porter, 2008). One of the defining characteristics of the hospitality industry is the high capital costs needed to start the business, as well as high fixed costs. This high demand for capital makes it difficult for new entrants to enter the hospitality market (Cheng, 2013).

Furthermore, to start and sustain a hotel business, a good metropolitan location is necessary (Cheng, 2013). As these locations are available only to a certain extent, only a limited number of hotels can be established in a particular location. This phenomenon serves as another barrier to entry of new competitors in the hospitality industry.

Lastly, considerable experience and knowledge in the hospitality industry are needed to provide customers with the services of required quality (Sturman, Corgel and Verma, 2011). Failing to provide their customers with this quality would make it difficult for the business to remain viable for long. As managers and staff having this knowledge and expertise are present only in a limited number, the threat of new entrants is further lowered.

Threat of Substitutes

To properly analyze the threat of substitutes for businesses in the hospitality industry, it is vital to divide the companies into two distinct categories. Firstly, there is the capital intensive business of large, international hotels, which provide their customers with a great number of amenities and facilities. Most of the government agencies, bigger businesses, tour operators, and organizations have contracts with these big hotels, which provide them with a constant source of revenue (Sturman, Corgel and Verma, 2011). These bigger businesses are not facing any significant threat of substitute services right now.

On the other hand, there is the category of smaller or middle-sized hotels that primarily attract cost-conscious tourists. These businesses are facing stiff competition from ‘Bed and Breakfast’ options that are becoming increasingly popular since the last decade (Curry, 2020). Apps like Airbnb provide the cost-conscious tourists and travellers with cheaper alternatives to hotels, and thus, a greater section of low-spending customers market is being lost to the middle and low-end hotels, as discussed previously.

Bargaining Power of Suppliers

Businesses operating within the hospitality industry regularly conduct business with suppliers of various items used in their daily operations like food suppliers, electronics suppliers, and cutlers, etc. (Sturman, Corgel and Verma, 2011). However, the bargaining power of all these suppliers is quite low, as several businesses are supplying the same or similar products.

The only segment to which the hospitality industry is somewhat dependent is that of the skilled and experienced personnel (Sturman, Corgel and Verma, 2011). This skilled personnel is available only to a limited extent, and also have several businesses vying for the procurement of their services. Thus, the bargaining power of skilled personnel is the only significant factor in this regard for companies operating in the hospitality industry.

Bargaining Power of Buyers

In the case of the hospitality industry, the buying power of buyers is perhaps the greatest, especially for the customers of bigger hotels, which conduct business with hotels on a bulk or long term basis. Most of the hotels tend to give in to the demands of major tour operators or organizations to satisfy and retain them (Cheng, 2013). Hotels have relatively less power in this regards as the potential customer can easily engage another hotel at their terms.

The bargaining power of small and middle-ranged hotels has also deteriorated in recent years because of the popularity of online booking platforms like Booking.com and Expedia. These applications have made it easier for customers to compare and contrast the prices and facilities offered by a wide variety of establishments in any region, and thus improve their bargaining power (Cheng, 2013). Thus, the bargaining power of buyers is one of the significant threats to the profitability of businesses operating within the hospitality industry.

Intensity of Rivalry in the Industry

Different factors, including industry growth rate, fixed costs, product differentiation, and exit barriers, etc. determine the level of intensity in rivalry in any industry (Porter, 2008). From among these factors, fixed costs and exit barriers are exceptionally high in the hospitality industry. As both the entry costs and fixed costs for hotels are comparatively higher, once an investor has invested his capital in a hospitality enterprise, exiting the industry would involve high losses (Cheng, 2013). The only viable option for a large scale enterprise is to involve a new investor and transfer the property rights to another party. As these able and interested investors are available only in a limited number, the exit barriers in the hospitality industry are high.

Figure 2: Porter’s Five Forces Model.

The barriers to sustainable competitive advantage in the global hotel industry are highlighted in red

Current Offerings of Hyatt Hotel and Resorts

Hyatt is one of the world’s best hospitality services provider, having its hotels and resorts around the globe. The company started in 1957 in the USA and has grown since then to all parts of the world, with more than 950 hotels and 127,000 employees (Hyatt, 2020a). Because of the quality of its services, the hotel has become a top choice for high spending customers. However, as observed in previous sections, the world economy is going through a recession, and the purchasing power of individuals throughout the world is deteriorating. The upcoming section will analyze the policies currently prevalent at Hyatt and assess their feasibility in the changed market scenario.

Services

Operating within the hospitality industry, the primary services offered by Hyatt are those of hotels and resorts (Hyatt, 2020a). Observing their marketing activities on social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter shows that the company specifically targets customers who intend to take a holiday to any of the exotic places where a Hyatt hotel or resort is operational (Hyatt, 2020b; Hyatt, 2020c). Although the recent emphasis on holidays and vacations may have something to do with the approaching holidays and Christmas season, the company’s social media marketing has focused on holiday deals even in normal months in which people travel more for business than for leisure. Hyatt’s unique offerings are aimed at attracting a greater number of holiday-making customers include restaurants, bars, lounges, spas, mini-golf courses, and swimming pools (Hyatt, 2020a). Thus, the social media marketing activities and offered amenities show that the company is specifically targeting the customer base of vacationers and leisure travellers.

In addition to hotels and resorts, the company also provides services for corporate meetings and weddings. For corporate meetings, the company offers high-end formal meeting options in most of their hotels. The company also provides transportation and shuttle services, in addition to state of the art business centres, where the guests can work while attending the meeting (Hyatt, 2020d). For weddings, the company also offers a wide variety of services, ranging from guest accommodations to specially designed wedding venues, menus, and honeymoon offers (Hyatt, 2020e).

Prices

The prices being offered by Hyatt are at the higher end of the spectrum, as assessed by comparison with the prices of its main competitors, i.e. Marriott and Hilton. For a brief price comparison analysis, the three most popular tourist-attracting cities of London, Paris, and New York are used here. In London, the price of one night stay with Hyatt Regency London is $267, while the price for Residence Inn Marriott and Hilton London Kensington is $134and $91 respectively (Tripadvisor, 2020a; Tripadvisor, 2020b; Tripadvisor, 2020c). In Paris, the price for one night stay with Hyatt Paris Madeleine, Hilton Paris Opera, and Courtyard by Marriott Paris is $385, $284, and $195 respectively (Tripadvisor, 2020d; Tripadvisor, 2020e; Tripadvisor, 2020f). Lastly, in New York, the one night rent in Grand Hyatt New York, Millennium Hilton New York Downtown, and Courtyard by Marriott New York is $219, $69, and $135 respectively (Tripadvisor, 2020g; Tripadvisor, 2020h; Tripadvisor, 2020i). This comparison shows that Hyatt is currently charging the highest rent for its rooms from among its competitors, and thus, only caters to the high budget customers.

Figure 3: Hyatt and its Competitors Ranked According to their Price levels

Countries

Hyatt is one of the most well-known names in the global hospitality industry and is known for its high-end services and amenities. The company owns more than 950 hotels throughout the world, while there are also several other properties like resorts and spas (Hyatt, 2020a). Overall, the company has a presence in 67 countries, which are spread over six continents. However, most of the customers of the company are concentrated in the USA, China, and Europe (Hyatt, 2020a).

Evaluation of Current Offerings Against the Global Hotel Industry Environment

As discussed in section 3.1, the main services offered by Hyatt are hotels and resorts, corporate meeting centres, and wedding venues, while the targeted customers are holiday-makers, large corporate organizations, and big-spending couples. Keeping in view the results of the PESTLE analysis, Hyatt is in danger of losing a large chunk of its business in the current market environment. The Covid-19 pandemic has stopped all social activities like tourism, leisure travelling, and large-scale wedding events, etc., the activities on which the business of Hyatt group was based. Similarly, the pandemic has also pushed the activity of corporate meetings into the digital domain, with meetings being held over the internet, rather than in boardrooms or big halls. Thus, Hyatt would be one of the biggest sufferers in the current business environment, as all of its major activities have come to a standstill.

Secondly, as discussed in section 3.1.2, the prices of Hyatt’s services are at the higher end of the price spectrum, and the company charges higher rents for its services than its main competitors. The global economic recession, which may turn even worse in the wake of the pandemic, means that Hyatt would find it harder to maintain the number of its customers even after social activities like corporate meetings and vacations resume. The decreased spending power of both individuals and corporations would result in lesser customers for Hyatt, and thus, its revenues are expected to remain low even shortly. These problems, coupled with the high bargaining power of customers and high intensity of competition in the industry, would make it difficult for the company to maintain its operations in future.

Potential Strategic Direction and Recommendations

Keeping in view the current market environment and the low number of expected customers for Hyatt’s services, one of the few ways to survive the unsuitable conditions of market would be to try to keep hold of the existing customers. As a high-end hospitality services provider, Hyatt only deals with individuals and organizations who want to enjoy best quality of services at premium price. Although the current and upcoming economic situation could result in decreased spending on leisure activities, the expected spending power of the wealthiest sections of the society is not likely to change drastically (Levanon, 2020). Thus, Hyatt should pursue an inside-out strategy in future, which would allow the company to exploit its internal competencies to the maximum (Riezebos and van der Grinten, 2020).

Hyatt already possesses asymmetric skills, knowledge, processes, and customer relationships, which its competitors are not expected to be able to acquire or imitate. The company enjoys the services of the most talented employees available in the market, and its managers are also well experienced, having operated in the market for more than 50 years. Lastly, the company also has well-established connections with some of the biggest customers in the industry. Hyatt should make use of these internal competencies to survive in the unfavourable circumstances by maintaining its current customers. In the long term, this strategy would also benefit the company by developing superior resources and imitation barriers (Riezebos and van der Grinten, 2020).

Similarly, the company currently follows a strategy of focusing on high spending holiday-makers. Keeping in view the reduced tourist activity in the backdrop of the global pandemic, Hyatt should move to a differentiation strategy. The company already offers unique services to its customers, and the only change required to jump to a differentiation strategy is to alter its marketing strategy (Spender, 2014). Currently, the focus of Hyatt’s marketing activities is on attracting individual leisure travellers. An updated marketing strategy should make efforts to attract other travelling customer segments, like business travellers, while lowering emphasis on individual leisure travellers.

Another area in which Hyatt can make changes to survive in the current market is that of its pricing strategy. Currently, the company is following a value-based pricing strategy, which has been effective in pre-pandemic times. The prices at Hyatt are determined based on customer behaviour, and prices are kept at the levels to which customers are willing to pay in exchange for the services. However, the company should revise this policy and adopt a cost-based pricing strategy. This will significantly lower the prices of services being offered by Hyatt while still allowing the company to maintain its profit levels in the current economic recession (Spender, 2014). While the loyal customers of the company are expected to keep paying for Hyatt’s services on older price levels, adopting a cost-based pricing strategy would provide the company with a rare opportunity in this market environment to increase its customers (Spender, 2014).

Conclusion

Practising the provided recommendations can help Hyatt to overcome the difficult market situation to a large extent. As shown in the PESTLE analysis, the Covid-19 pandemic and the deteriorating world economy are two of the most significant events that have impacted the global hotel industry. Other minor factors included the rise of right-wing governments, industry trends towards environmental sustainability, and popularization of social media and the internet. The Porter’s Five Forces analysis showed that high bargaining power of buyers and high intensity of rivalry in the industry are the two main factors that keep businesses in the global hotel industry from attaining a sustainable competitive advantage. An analysis of the current organizational policies of Hyatt showed that these are not suitable for the changed market situation. Hence, some recommendations were made for the company, through which it can mitigate the effects of unsuitable market atmosphere. Changes in overall company strategy, focus strategy, and pricing strategy has been recommended.

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