Wednesday, March 29, 2023

City Express joins the trend of hotel mergers

A few days ago, while traveling through Insurgentes Sur, I passed in front of Los Almendros, a once famous Yucatecan food restaurant that looked almost empty and a friend commented: “That place stopped being good when the chain bought it.”

No one can deny the atmosphere of CRM, a restaurant owned by the Vargas family, which competes with the restaurant giants, but Los Almendros has certainly lost its finesse when the weight and price of raw materials is more important than the sauce.

Last week, the Federal Economic Commission of Competition granted Marriott to acquire the collection of brands City Express, whose founder is Luis Barrios, an operation of 100 million dollars, which will add 150 hotels and 17,000 rooms to its portfolio.

Barrios said the city is starting a global trend of hotel consolidation in the world, which will translate into growth and internationalization.

Obviously, by calling itself Marriott, many investors will be interested in using the urban brand, which is now part of one of the largest distribution networks in the world.

In addition, City Express has always focused on efficiency, organization, and although it has some hotels with larger rooms or above average architectural design, it has never asked for personal service.

I remember years ago in a meeting with Barrio and a potential investor, when I asked him if they could offer at least some experiences in the destination, and he answered ironically, “maybe the owner could use the bed to present some brochures.”

In fact, with those mergers led by Marriott, Hyatt, Barceló, Conventions and so many other chains, it is equally difficult to find differentiators between one hotel room and another, which have already become commodities.

There has never been and never will be personal service in the city and, if one wants to pay this bill, one has to opt for luxury brands and sometimes pay stratospheric sums.

That romantic vision of small hotel owners who at least offered a good breakfast and who wanted to talk to their guests, bring them in and give them something extra, was overcome by mergers, loss of numbers and savings.

For the business traveler on a budget, all you need is a clean room, a comfortable bed, a working internet connection and a basic breakfast before heading to work.

But the corner of those travelers who are not in a great dispensation or hurry, and who are happy to ask the owners for travel tips, is left.

Platforms like Airbnb, on the other hand, through technology, the ability to search for a guest have already allowed the owner to pay for everything they need during their stay.

In addition, it rewards so-called “superhosts” because guests rate and recommend them when they leave goods and, in addition, they can now buy some experiences.

It is only a hypothesis, but perhaps the cold numbers after the mergers, which the investment of funds like so much, open the door for customers to set up another system to depart from the subtleties that already exist in the hotel brand.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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