Hospitality Industry
2 min read

Meet the biggest hotel chains in the world

EHL Insights
Written by

The world's largest hotel chains have to be doing something right. For the hospitality student, major hotel chains offer case studies in customer service, marketing, loyalty, and of course the principles of hospitality.

See which global hotel chains are the largest and how they attract and maintain their loyal guests. 

Marriott - the world's biggest hotel chain 

The U.S.-based hotel chain is the world's biggest, after its merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 2016. Marriott has a global presence in 110 countries, where there are over 5,700 properties spread across 30 brands, including the Sheraton brand, which is the third biggest revenue generator in the company's portfolio. 

Marriott is headquartered in Washington D.C. where the brand first launched back in 1927 with a "motor hotel" or motel and a root beer stand. Today Marriott's annual revenue tops $14.5 billion. 

The leading hotel brand recently announced a redesign for its Sheraton properties, which will focus on open design and communal space within the hotel through features such as large shared desks with wireless charging. The new Sheratons will also feature closet-sized soundproof rooms, intended for use among business travelers who need a silent workspace. 

As a hotel chain, Marriott prides itself on hospitality and luxury, values that speak to a particular demographic. The brand also cares about social issues, from diversity and community development to sustainability and the eradication of poverty. 

Hilton - hotels in more than 100 countries 

U.S. hotel chain Hilton, named for its founder Conrad Hilton, trails Marriott by a hair. The global hotel brand has a presence in over 100 countries with some 5,000 hotels spread across brand including Hilton, Astoria and DoubleTree. 

Like Marriott, Hilton is named for its founder, Conrad Hilton, who got his start in the hospitality industry in 1919. While many of the Hilton properties focus on luxury and lifestyle with amenities that appeal to the jet set, business travelers will also find Hiltons located in major cities, near airports and convention centers. The hotel chain is focused on expanding in the Baltic States and Asia, with new properties in Burma, Bangladesh, Serbia and Estonia. 

The company commands over $11 billion in annual revenue and was ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 36th largest privately held company in the U.S. before their initial public offering, which took place in 2013. While the company was started in Texas, it is now headquartered in McLean, VA. 

EHL Campus (Singapore)  SHORT COURSE on Designing Hotel and Restaurant Concepts  How to design and develop a successful hospitality concept - from the  strategic and creative level down to the day-to-day operations  Learn More

Accor - the French hotel chain

Based in Paris, where the hotel brand began in the 1960s, Accor earns over $6 billion in annual revenue and represents the third largest hotel brand. Accor owns properties such as Sofitel, Novotel, All Seasons, Pullman, and Motel 6. Where the other leading hotel brands skew toward luxury properties. Accor holds approximately 3,700 hotels that span the gamut from economy lodges to 5-star properties. 

Accor is actively looking to grow its portfolio and recently indicated an interest in becoming a minority stakeholder in Air France-KLM. Whereas the other largest hotel chains are focused on maintaining their reputation for service, it looks like Accor is taking an innovator's approach and may shake up the market. This is one to watch. 

Best Western Hotels - travelers favorite hotels

Best Western commands $6 billion in annual revenue from close to 4,200 hotels. While half of their units are located in North America, Best Western is presently focused on expanding their presence in the Middle East and Asia. The hotel chain began in 1946 and is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.

The hospitality giant's hotels all bear the "Best Western" moniker, so travelers must rely on the tiers of Best Western, Best Western Plus, and Best Western Premier to determine the level of amenities at each property. 

Wyndham - the generous hotel chain 

Wyndham may have the largest number of properties at over 8,000, but their revenue and global footprint are smaller: Wyndham reports an annual revenue of $5 billion from units that are spread across 66 countries, with Wyndham Worldwide representing the majority of their properties. Wyndham is a newer player in the hospitality market, as it started in 1981 in Dallas. Today, the hotel chain is headquartered in New Jersey. 

Wyndham focuses heavily on customer loyalty using rewards, and is often known for gifting frequent guests with gift cards, free nights, and even free airline tickets. 

Photo credit: Accor

Written by

Got a story to share? Become an EHL Insights contributor

Learn More

Master in Hospitality Management

MiHM - A master for the new generation

Learn what operating with agility means. Learn every nuance of talent management, marketing, revenue strategies, logistics and customer centricity for an industry where change is ever present.