Travel through time: a history of the hotel industry

Article by Lois Avery

When the Tremont Hotel in Boston Massachusetts opened its doors in 1829, it was widely known as the world’s first modern hotel.

Free soap, bellboys and indoor plumbing were a few of the modern conveniences that set it apart from the humble inns and guesthouses that went before and it set in motion two centuries of hospitality evolution.

Luxury hotels today account for approximately half of the global hotels market, which consists of around 13 million rooms. By 2020 it’s estimated that there will be over 15-and-a-half million, but hotels weren’t designed to serve the wealthy. Born out of necessity – pit stops for weary road travellers – inns and guesthouses have evolved into a multi-billion dollar business over hundreds of years.

“Growth in travel and tourism, combined with more capital coming in to the hospitality real estate sector has helped us to write a compelling story,” says Mark Wynne Smith, Global CEO, JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group. “As the global appetite for travel has grown, so has investor appetite for hotel assets.”

Watch the video to see how hotels have evolved over the years.

An ever popular sector

Through the peaks and troughs of financial crisis, capital has poured into the sector. By the end of 2015 expected to plough US$68 billion into hotels around the world. No longer a niche investment; hotel assets compete for investor attention against offices, retail space and large scale industrial properties.

And despite competition from the likes of AirBnB, the volume of rooms is growing. According to STR Global, branded chains alone operate 7.5 million rooms across every segment. From chains that employ Chinese staff to manage the ever increasing global footprint of holidaymakers from the People’s Republic, to luxury hotels that entice fashionistas with big brand names: Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Armani, to name just a few, have entered the hospitality space. The world is awash with hotel brands, catering to consumers’ unique requirements.

Over the last 200 years we have witnessed an evolution, but the next century could see the hospitality sector undergo a revolution as the pace of change grows ever greater.

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