Is the golden age of county hotels coming?

Is the golden age of county hotels coming?
Is the golden age of county hotels coming?


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The Spring Festival is year after year, but how to celebrate the Spring Festival is constantly changing new tricks. Especially this year, staying in a hotel during the Chinese New Year has become a new choice for some young people.

According to data from the Tongcheng Travel platform, from the first to the fourth day of the Lunar New Year, the number of hotel bookings in major counties across the country increased by more than 120% year-on-year. From the perspective of crowd structure, the flow of tourists returning to their hometowns to visit relatives and short-distance tourism constitute the main consumer groups of county hotels.

At the same time, data from Huazhu Group shows that many third- and fourth-tier cities will usher in a peak of hotel bookings during the Spring Festival holiday in 2024, with the booking rate in Beihai, Wenchang and other cities exceeding 60% and continuing to rise. According to the data of Thank Inn You, as of February 6, Hechi in Guangxi, Dongfang in Hainan, Ningde in Fujian, and Bazhong in Sichuan ranked among the top 10 in occupancy rate during the Spring Festival.

This Spring Festival, the sinking hotel market is booming, which has become an indisputable fact.

Is the golden age of county hotels coming?

The Spring Festival is a great migration of the Chinese population from cities to towns. In this huge process, how to find a balance of accommodation is the top priority for young people returning to their hometowns today.

"A family of 4 goes back to their hometown to stay in a hotel for the New Year", "Couples who have been away from their hometown for 20 years go home to live in a hotel for the New Year", "Returning to their hometown to stay in a hotel for the New Year" and other topics during the Spring Festival are frequently searched, and they also officially respond to the new places to stay in their hometowns for the New Year.

What are the trends and reasons behind this? The milestone summary finds that it can be interpreted from the following two dimensions.

First of all, from the perspective of internal causes, it is more down to the individual and the family itself.

Some netizens said that there is a huge gap between living habits and elders, in order to avoid contradictions and awkwardness between the two parties during the Spring Festival due to the concept of life, choose to keep a distance; some netizens said that relatives and friends often have big reunions during the Chinese New Year, especially now that the traffic is becoming more and more developed, there are more and more relatives across provinces, and the family can not accommodate it, so they can only arrange the surrounding hotels for everyone; In order not to bring more tasks to the short stay, staying in a hotel during the New Year is also the best choice.

Of course, every family has a scripture that is difficult to read, and the environmental situation of each family is different, and choosing to live in a hotel has increasingly become the core weapon to reduce family conflicts. It should not be ignored that the cultural core of the Spring Festival is reunion and reunion of relatives and friends, as long as it does not violate the original intention, inherit the Spring Festival in the midst of change, and live a comfortable and labor-saving New Year, it is not a kind of social progress.

Secondly, looking at the external reasons, it is more rooted in the iterative improvement of consumption concepts and quality of life.

On the one hand, as many hotel groups pay more and more attention to the layout of the sinking market, the original pattern of county-level hotels being more independent hotels and mom-and-pop stores is being broken and rebuilt. At the same time, due to the advantages of chain hotels in terms of supply chain, service capabilities, brand reputation, etc., the overall quality of county hotels is being forced to reach a new height. This is for young people in the new era whose spending power and concepts are improving, and it also provides them with new options for accommodation during the Chinese New Year.

On the other hand, the Spring Festival is no longer limited to visiting relatives and friends, and the new Spring Festival method of "returning to hometown + tourism" has ushered in a peak of traffic for many county market hotels with rich tourism resources. For example, data from the Tongcheng travel platform shows that driven by the Spring Festival tourism season, hotel bookings in county-level cities with rich tourism resources such as Yangshuo County, Shangri-La County, and Wuyuan County are hot.

Is the golden age of county hotels coming?

The vigorous vitality of the sinking hotel market during this year's Spring Festival is not a coincidence and accident, which benefits from the infinite vitality of the hotel sinking market.

On the policy side, the "Three-Year Action Plan for County Commerce (2023-2025)" clearly points out that "accelerate the completion of the shortcomings and weaknesses of county business development", and the county has been revitalized under the national strategic deployment. In particular, in 2023, reverse tourism, "Village Super League", "Zibo Barbecue" and other sufficient tourist sources will bring to the sinking market, all of which will inject a shot in the arm for the development of the county's accommodation industry. At the same time, the lower rent of county-level properties at the market end makes the return on investment more convincing, and industry investors point out that the cost of investing in a hotel in a first-tier city is enough to pay for his investment in 2-3 hotels in a county-level city, and the county with lower rents is becoming a hot spot for hotel investment. In addition, on the experience side outside of accommodation, the hotel integrates local life and becomes a social center for locals, whether it is a new choice for entertaining relatives and friends, a gym for young people in a small town, a "good neighbor in China" shaped by a multi-functional lobby, etc., all of which allow it to assume the role of "experience upgrade".

Some hotel industry practitioners pointed out that in the expansion of hotels in China's third- and fourth-tier cities, the advantages of brands and chains are becoming more and more prominent. In recent years, the rate of hotel chains in China has also gradually increased. At present, the chain rate of China's first-, second-, third- and fourth-tier cities is 44%, 36%, 25% and 14% respectively, compared with more than 70% in developed countries, the hotel industry in the third and fourth tier cities in mainland China has more room for growth.

Ji Qi, founder of Huazhu Group, also said that the hotel industry will usher in another golden opportunity period, especially in the third- and fourth-tier city markets, and at the same time, one of the keywords of future hotel investment is the "four lows", that is, the low-tier market, low cost, low investment, and low leverage.

The above benefits are also the consensus of the major leading hotel groups.

Domestically, take the three giants of Huazhu, BTG Homeinns and Jinjiang as examples.

According to the data disclosed in Huazhu Group's Q3 2023 financial report, 40% of its operating hotels are located in lower-tier cities, and 55% of the hotels to be opened are located in lower-tier cities, further increasing the proportion. In lower-tier cities, the number of hotels in operation increased by 6% year-on-year to nearly 3,600 stores, and the number of hotels to open increased by 20% year-on-year to more than 1,600. BTG Homeinns pointed out at its 2023 third quarter report briefing that it will make every effort to promote the development of all brands and regions by further expanding the development team, increasing incentives, and optimizing development policies, and continue to sink to third-tier cities and below, continuously improve the scale of hotels, and steadily increase the company's market share , and the proportion of operating stores in the "sinking market" is 48%.

Internationally, take Hilton, Marriott, and Intercontinental as examples.

Hilton Group said that in 2024, it will accelerate the layout and continue to deepen the Chinese market, and in terms of location, design and personalized services, it will be more in line with the lifestyle of young Chinese consumers. Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province and other popular tourist destinations have opened new stores, while Marriott International said that its hotels will continue to expand into more Chinese destinations in 2024, and in addition to new hotels, it will also focus on renovation projects and existing markets, 30% this year IHG pointed out that in 2024, it will closely monitor industry trends to ensure that its strategic layout is closely linked to the country's long-term plan, and actively expand into emerging markets, focusing on third- and fourth-tier cities, focusing on lower-tier markets and niche destinations, and continuing to drive expansion with a differentiated matrix layout.

Is the golden age of county hotels coming?

Although the potential of the hotel sinking market is endless, it is undeniable that the passenger flow of county hotels during the Spring Festival is full, which belongs to the peak season driven by specific holidays. When the holiday dividend recedes, how should the county hotel continue its lasting vitality?

Milestone believes that the following three ways may give some ideas to the hoteliers to a certain extent.

1. Strengthen the product diversification matrix and higher standardization of services.

Constantly update and iterate products to narrow the gap with the city, and at the same time eliminate the previous non-standard independent hotels, so that local people can enjoy a more high-quality and inexpensive accommodation environment, so as to firmly occupy the minds of local consumers, and in the next traffic peak, seize the opportunity of word-of-mouth in advance.

For example, Huazhu has further promoted digitalization and chaining, and launched the "Easy Security" to combine traditional alarm services with the Internet of Things, the "Huazhang Shopkeeper" hotel front desk terminal to achieve "30 seconds of check-in, 0 seconds of check-out", "Huaxiao AI" can assist manual customer service to answer room calls, etc., and for example, the eighth-generation upgraded product "U6s" of Thank Inn Chain Economy Hotel emphasizes the cultural genes of the small town and "high appearance + full intelligence", bringing consumers more trendy choices through multi-level iteration.

2. Leverage strength and pay attention to the deep integration of local cultural and tourism resources.

Seize the unique regional culture and cultural tourism resources of various places, and continuously expand the influence of hotels in the context of cultural and tourism integration, so as to attract the main consumer force from surrounding cities and even all over the country.

For example, Jiangxi's rich ancient architectural culture, so that the hotel design can effectively fit the traditional Ming and Qing architectural style, typical blue bricks, the top of the mountain and other characteristics will become a check-in resort, folk culture, and can be integrated Jiangxi traditional drama performances, dance performances, ancient music performances or Jiangxi paper-cutting, Jiangxi tea art experience and other experience activities, catering to create, Gan cuisine, Lushan stone chicken and other delicacies with Jiangxi special elements and flavors, can also make many customers linger. In addition, the guided introduction of tourism resources and natural landscapes such as Lushan, Sanqingshan and Jinggangshan will also add a lot to the service content of the hotel. Of course, China has a lot of land and resources, as long as you deeply cultivate the local culture, you can dig out a lot of moving stories, and the hotel will make efforts in these contents, which will definitely form a huge boost for the personalized creation of the hotel.

3. Pay attention to the parallel development of multiple revenue channels, and actively build the second and third growth curves.

The functional status of the hotel is no longer limited to the single link of accommodation, and the multi-functional platform positioning may be more in line with its current situation. In addition to accommodation, hotels can build the following revenue streams. For example, wedding banquets and various banquets dominated by the "wedding" day economy, hotel retail composed of regional specialties and specialties, etc., so as to open up the hotel's revenue horizons.

Taking the "marriage" day economy as an example, as soon as it comes to the National Day or around the Spring Festival, you can see a lot of wedding sharing in the circle of friends, and it is understood that in this kind of prime stall, many hotels with wedding banquets need to make an appointment half a year in advance. According to the marriage appointments during the National Day in a certain place in 2023, the number of appointments for "National Day wedding stalls" in 2022 will directly skyrocket by 400%. This is undoubtedly a rare revenue bright spot for the sinking hotel market.

It can be found that after the peak of traffic recedes, each hotel still has a lot to do, but it depends on whether they can find their own advantages and construct differentiated characteristics, so as to achieve Changhong performance.

Is the golden age of county hotels coming?

"Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen are the illusion of China, and the county seat is the background color of China. "It is not difficult to predict that county hotels will maintain this momentum of development during the Spring Festival in the future and continue to continue this kind of performance for them. At the same time, nearly 300 prefecture-level cities, more than 2,800 county seats, and a population of nearly 1 billion people, the commercial space that needs to be reclaimed urgently also fills the sinking hotel market with more imagination. In the future, it is worth waiting to see which brands will become the king of the county market.

※This article only represents the author's personal views and is not the position of

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