Global travel and leisure trends are improving, thanks to a recent shift in consumer spending from goods to experiences. Combine that with easing travel restrictions and pent-up demand for travel, and you find a segment of the market due for some recovery.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at two global hospitality stocks and determine which is a better buy at the moment.

Marriott International: All travelers invited

Marriott International (MAR 2.19%) first started in 1927, when J. Willard Marriott and his wife set up a tiny root beer stand in Washington, D.C., named "The Hot Shoppe." Their successful food service company next ventured into lodging and the Marriott family of hotels was born, targeting travelers of all kinds.

The company, based in Bethesda, Maryland, now operates 30 brands and over 8,100 properties across 139 countries and territories. Global expansion has been a primary strategy from the beginning, and Marriott continues to grow its presence domestically and internationally -- under both the Marriott name and a portfolio of hotels that range from lifestyle to luxury segments.

A Dubai cityscape at dusk, seen from the pool area of a Marriott hotel.

Image source: Marriott International.

Marriott utilizes extensive market research when scouting out new hotel locations, identifying cities with the most potential for travel industry growth. Seeking the most opportune locations possible, the company's researchers travel to conventions, visitors bureaus, and competing properties -- all to get a better idea of whether a property will be successful. Marriott added 97 new properties to its portfolio in the second quarter of 2022, and expects to see its number of rooms grow by up to 3.5% this year.

Hilton: Dream big

Hilton Worldwide Holdings (HLT 2.04%) began in Texas, where Conrad Hilton launched his first hotel in 1925. Intent on running the best hotel in Texas, he laid the foundation for what was to become one of the world's largest and fastest-growing hospitality companies.

Now headquartered in Virginia, Hilton's success is largely due to Conrad Hilton's vision. In his words, "To accomplish big things, I am convinced you must first dream big dreams." With his company now operating 7,000 properties across 122 countries under 18 brands, the founder would certainly be impressed.

Focused primarily on the luxury segment, Hilton continues to expand its footprint worldwide. In the second quarter, the company opened new properties under its high-end "Conrad" brand -- one in Nashville, Tennessee, and one on Sardinia, an Italian island north of Tunisia. Conrad Los Angeles opened this past July.

To offset construction delays during the pandemic, Hilton strategically shifted its focus to growth opportunities , inking deals for new properties in the Galapagos Islands; Maui; Sonoma County, California; and San Sebastián, Spain, among other European locations. In the second quarter of this year alone, Hilton signed agreements to open new Waldorf Astoria locations in Sydney, Australia, and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Which is the better buy?

To gauge whether Hilton or Marriott is the better buy, let's look at market capitalizations, price-to-earnings ratios, and dividend yields.

Metric Marriott International Hilton Worldwide Holdings
Market cap $45.6 billion $33.4 billion
P/E ratio 26.6 35.4
Dividend yield 0.85% 0.49%

Data source: Etrade.com. P/E = price-to-earnings.

With a lower price-to-earnings ratio and a higher dividend yield, Marriott International is shaping up to be a better buy at the moment. However, with leisure demand on the rise, watch for a recovery in both of these top-performing travel stocks.