Rumours of a merger between Accor and InterContinental Hotels Group could foreshadow a wave of acquisitions in the hospitality industry.
The two giants have reportedly discussed a deal internally, though no official moves have been made.
Ralph Hollister, tourism analyst at GlobalData, explained: “Although this deal seems to be just speculation, the enormity of this potential merger proves that industry consolidation could be accelerated due to behemoths acquiring, merging or striking partnerships with each other to increase market share.”
He added: “Many reasons for a merger between the two companies make the prospect plausible, especially during the current Covid-19 induced economic downturn, during which both companies have experienced significant losses.
“A major reason for this merger would be that the newly formed company could achieve savings in central costs.
“Companies that merge can often take advantage of a range of economies of scale such as cost savings associated with marketing, technology advancements and workforce specialisation.”
Hollister continues: “The flagship budget brands of both companies – Ibis and Holiday Inn Express - would be likely to complement each other well and assist in maximizing market share in the midscale/budget segments.
“Demand for low-cost accommodation will be likely to surge in the coming years due to the economic strain that Covid-19 has forced upon many travellers, meaning that the average amount of recreational expenditure per capita will be reduced across the globe.
“According to our most recent Covid-19 recovery survey, 34 per cent of global respondents are now ‘extremely concerned’ about their personal financial situation.
“This response amplifies the fact that many travellers will be on a stricter budget going forward.”
However, competition concerns in Europe or the United States may stand in the way of any deal.
Hollister concluded: “A combining of the two companies would create an industry titan, operating 1.6 million rooms.
“This kind of dominance would lead to supreme control over pricing due to a decrease in choice for travellers.
“If the newly merged company did increase room rates, this would be seen as anti-competitive behaviour and will be a prospect that competition authorities will already be wary of.”