Business Travelers Checking In: Starwood CEO
Companies are getting out and traveling in search of growth, Frits van Paasschen, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide president & CEO, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday.
"This is still a more travel-intensive global economy than we’ve seen before because of how connected people are and because of how businesses are spread to so many different markets around the world,” the StarwoodCEO said.
That has meant broad-based demand for hotel rooms from business travelers in industries ranging from professional services to technology, said van Paasschen, whose hotels include Sheraton and W.
“We’re seeing strength pretty much everywhere around the world with some softness in Western Europe and Argentina,” he said. (Related: Most Expensive Hotel Rooms).
“If you look at Africa and the Middle East, there’s much stronger growth than last year,” he added. “Latin America continues to grow, although not as strong as it was the year before.”
Van Paasschen also said the U.S. continues to do well because of supply constraints.
“I have yet to talk to a corporate customer who says they’re going to travel less,” he added.
The travel industry also is benefiting from a longer-term secular trend of rising wealth around the globe, he said.
“If you have the equivalent of three to four Chicagos being built in China because of the urbanization there, that long-term trend dominates what’s going on in terms of the headlines quarter to quarter, or even gross domestic product (CNBC Explains) growth quarter to quarter,” he said. (See also: China Slowdown Hitting the High End?).
Van Paasschen said that while there’s be a slowdown in revenue per available room in China, Starwood has signed more deals to open hotels this year than it did last year at this time.
“Of the 100 projects we have under way, none are on hold,” he said.