Marriott, the American hotel chain, is betting that the greater social mobility of Latin Americans wilt be a blessing for its sector. It's preparing for the rush with a plan to build new hotels and to adopt new techno-logy that will enable guests to make hotel reservations from a simple mobile phone.
"When people leave poverty behind they do two things: first they buy a mobile phone, and second they travel," Rob Steigerwald, chief of operations for the southern region of the Americas for Marriott International tow Latin Trade.
To take advantage of this expected growth, Marriott plans to open 71 new hotels in Latin America and the Caribbean over the next few years--part of a plan to double the number of properties the company has in the region. Last November the company also launched a Spanish-language app that enables people to make reservations at any of its hotels from a Smartphone.
"We chose to Launch our second app in the world in Spanish because we found that it's the second most popular Language for making reservations, after English," Steigerwald said.
The region's current expansion strategy is consistent with the Marriott culture. According to the executive, Marriott has sought to grow continously ever since it was founded. "When I started out (at the company) in 1981 we had 60 hotels throughout the world. Now we have 3,8o0," he said. "Now, looking at the tong term, we think Latin America offers us a...