Inaugural Luxury Hotel Index Shows U.S. Still Leads in Hospitality Brands

SAN DIEGO ( MainStreet) -- Global consumer interest for luxury hotels has grown 1.5% since the first quarter of 2012, with Russians, the British and Chinese being the fastest-growing luxury hospitality consumers, according to a study from the Digital Luxury Group.

But U.S. brands continue to dominate, and the top three most searched luxury hotel brands on the Internet worldwide were Hilton, Ritz-Carlton ( MAR) and The Four Seasons.

These and other findings are part of the first World Luxury Index Hotels, a study prepared by Digital Luxury Group in partnership with the Chair of Luxury Hospitality of Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne.

The study, an international ranking and analysis of the most searched-for brands within the luxury industry, covers more than 70 hotel brands and was developed from more than 133 million Internet searches conducted by consumers around the world.

Developed to provide much-needed intelligence to luxury brands and luxury service providers and as measurement of brand interest at the international level, the study includes several notable findings and takeaways, says David Sadigh, founder and CEO of Digital Luxury Group.

"The most important one is the growth opportunities, particularly Asian growth -- I think is an important part of equation," Sadigh says.

Sadigh said the relatively stable global luxury market is also an important assurance for luxury brands.

"When the market is stable it becomes even more important for hotel chains to discover strategic opportunities for growth. And there are many growth opportunities, especially linked to the boom of Asian or Russian travelers," Sadigh says.

American luxury hotel chains dominate market demand worldwide -- 75% of all luxury hotels searched online are American luxury hotel chains.

"I think if you look at the global luxury industry -- when it comes to cars, jewelry and fashion, usually Europe dominates -- Chanel, Gucci and so on -- those are all European companies. But when it comes to hotels, it's a totally different story," Sadigh says.

There are several reasons American hotels have achieved such domination of the worldwide luxury market, including their outstanding customer service orientation, Sadigh says.

"The domestic market in the United States is also a big market, and a lot of chains began by operating internally and had to compete with one another. There was an increased level of expectation among their guests that they had to meet, which gave them an edge," Sadigh says.

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