Franchising spurs international chain growth not only in the largest Polish cities.

By Dariusz Futoma on November 24, 2015

According to the authors of the fifth, the most recent issue of the guidebook for investors – Hotel Guidebook Poland&CEE 2015|2016 – hotel chain proliferation is growing most rapidly on account of franchising – and not only in the largest Polish cities. Whereas one of the biggest challenges faced by hotel owners in Poland is the low average room price.

Horwath HTL, a consultancy company for the hospitality and hotel management as well as tourism industry, which celebrates its one hundredth anniversary this year, together with TPA Horwath, have put together the next, fifth issue of the guidebook for everyone already active or planning to invest in the Polish hospitality and hotel management industry. The report authors thoroughly analysed the market situation as well as the trends seen across the world and particularly in Europe, and had a closer look at local arrangements affecting growth of the industry in Poland. They demonstrated both shortfalls as well as risks, but also the vast potential simmering in the Polish hospitality and hotel management sector.

The Polish hotel market is constantly changing and developing. At the end of 2014 there were 2,459 hotels in Poland with a total capacity of 122,162 rooms. The majority of these constituted 3* units (50% market share considering numbers of units, 45% market share considering the number of hotel rooms). In second place considering the number of hotels are 2* units (27% market share), however if one considers the number of hotel rooms, 4* units prevail (26% market share). The highest occupancy rates in 2014, exceeding the national average – 45.4%, were recorded by hotels located in the following provinces: Mazowieckie, Zachodniopomorskie and Małopolskie. Analyses results also indicate, that whereas Warsaw is still ahead of other cities in terms of hotel infrastructure supply as well as the demand for it, Trójmiasto has become one of the most attractive locations for new hotel investments. Two primary factors have had an impact on the hotel investment growth and favourable performance of hotels in Trójmiasto: development of BPO centres in the city supported by an intensive growth on the office real property market as well as the ever increasing recognisability of this agglomeration as an attractive tourist destination among foreign visitors.

In the middle of 2015, 24 Polish hotel chains were operating across Poland, jointly offering 145 hotels with more than 16 thousand rooms and 15 international hotel chains with 158 hotels and more than 25 thousand hotel rooms. In Poland, hotels part of chains are on average 3.5 times larger than independent hotels. The average size of hotels across all categories exceeds 100 rooms and is a natural consequence of hotel chain requirements which are not interested in small units. The largest percentage of chain hotels as well as hotel rooms is seen in the top hotel category – 5-star units. This stems from the fact that the lion’s share of units in this category are primarily city hotels, with a large number of rooms and a lot of interest from hotel chains. Hotel chains in the 4* category in Poland represent just over ¼ of all units of this standard. The situation is different when it comes to hotel rooms – half the available rooms to this standards are chain rooms. Chain proliferation is least for 1-3* hotels – less than 10% of hotels in a given category. The hotel rooms chain proliferation index is slightly higher for these categories.

The interest of Polish hotel owners in international chains is on the increase – by way of a franchise. Through this, chains which have had a presence in Poland for numbers of years are able to continue their growth, and for newcomers to the market, considering making their first steps, this comprises an option, through which they can get a foot in the door of the difficult Polish market. It should be mentioned, that Polish professionals have ever more knowledge and experience and their achievements are being noticed not only in this county. International chains have realised that it is possible, if not indispensible to put their trusts in Polish investors, hotel owners and “hand over” the brand name to them – comments Dariusz Futoma, a director at Horwath HTL, a consultancy firm and one of the report authors.

Another significant issue broached in the publication are average hotel prices and the effects thereof on hotel owners’ performance. – Whereas average occupancy rates do not vary significantly from hotels in other countries, unfortunately, the results returned by Polish hotels as compared to other European countries are still unsatisfactory. The cause of the low revenues generated by a single hotel room in Poland are low average prices. According to report authors, such a state is the result of intensive hotel infrastructure growth and the ensuing competitive struggles, which often focus on price. Furthermore, competition is heated up by other forms of hotel facilities geared towards short term rentals, such as hostels, apartments to rent, extended-stay hotels, etc. The market for such forms of accommodation is growing rapidly, and not just in Poland, and its expansion is further driven by bookings websites specialising in acting as intermediaries for these specific services. Undoubtedly, both chains as well as independent hotels have to square up to this trend sooner rather than later in the context of one of the primary methods for winning a competitive advantage.

Hospitality and hotel management comprises many aspects – operating under the principle of “communicating vessels”, and therefore the report also contains information on taxes, HR management or finance in the broad sense. The authors of the guidebook, published under the patronage of Polish Hospitality and Hotel Management Economic Chamber (Izba Gospodarcza Hotelarstwa Polskiego), STR Global, The Hotelier (Magazyn Hotelarz) and the industry focused website, have set a goal for themselves to provide complementary fundamental knowledge for hotel industry representatives, developers, banks and investments funds supporting decisions and helping to deal with the dynamically changing market trends.

For further details on the Hotel Guidebook please contact:
Dariusz Futoma, Director at Horwath HTL (

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Dariusz Futoma