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Choice Hotels Launches Plan to Redefine
and Redesign its Comfort Brand Family

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24, 2012 -- Kicking off the New Year at this year's annual Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), Choice Hotels (NYSE: CHH) invites the lodging community to rediscover its flagship brand. The Comfort brand family, which includes Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites, has embarked on a multi-faceted plan to strengthen and revitalize its 2,000 domestic hotels.

The "Comfort: Redefined and Redesigned" plan is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015 and focuses on three key strategies - removing underperforming properties, refreshing existing hotels and adding new construction prototypical hotels.

"The Comfort name is one that travelers have trusted for generations. It's our goal to revitalize the Comfort brand family, drive greater consistency and ensure guests enjoy the best experience every time they stay at a Comfort brand hotel," said Alexandra Jaritz, senior vice president of brand strategy and marketing for Choice Hotels

Removal of Hotels that Do Not Meet Guest Satisfaction Standards

Brand executives at Choice Hotels, one of the world's largest lodging franchisors, recently put in place higher guest satisfaction standards for the Comfort brand family with the goal of securing the brand's place as the best option for travelers within the upper midscale segment. "The new guest satisfaction standards are based on the voice of the guest," said Alexandra Jaritz, "and if guest feedback indicates that a property is not living up to standards, we have implemented stricter consequences for underperforming properties." This part of the plan is especially impactful for Comfort Inn. In addition to terminations issued for other reasons, Choice is prepared to remove up to 10 percent of the Comfort Inn system if those hotels do not rise above the new guest satisfaction thresholds.

Product Improvement Plans and New Brand Programs for Existing Hotels

The company is also implementing new brand programs at existing hotels designed to help them compete at a higher level. Brand programs were developed after extensive research with upper midscale and midscale guests. "We implemented the new Your Morning® breakfast program and flat panel TVs in 2011 at Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites, and we have already seen significant increases in guest satisfaction as a result," said Christina Goldie Williamson, senior director of brand strategy for the Comfort brand family. "In 2012, all Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites hotels will implement the 'Your First Impression' program, aimed at delivering a consistent and contemporary welcome experience to our guests." Additional brand programs are under development and will be launched over the course of the next three years.

Complementing the planned brand programs, nearly 70% of the Comfort system will complete more comprehensive Property Improvement Plans by the end of 2015, ensuring that the Comfort brand family provides a reliable and refreshed guest experience.

A New Prototype and Design that Drives Guests' "Intent to Stay" at Comfort

The brands' new Truly Yours™ prototypes, which were formally launched at ALIS, were designed and developed using feedback from more than 1,500 guests in addition to in-depth interviews with developers. Consumer research indicates that overall intent to stay at Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites nearly doubles* in response to the new design and that guests are willing to pay significantly more on average per night compared to the current design.**

"We designed the new Comfort prototypes with the idea that our guests and developers are the true architects," added Jaritz. "Through extensive consumer testing, we identified the amenities and design elements that appeal most to them. The result is a warm, inviting hotel design that not only resonates with our guests, but also appeals to experienced developers seeking a hotel that is highly cost-effective to build and operate."

"As the largest family of brands within the Choice Hotels portfolio, Comfort offers owners and developers strong potential for a return on investment," said David Pepper, executive vice president, global development, Choice Hotels. "Low development and operating cost models, combined with an appealing new prototype and an aggressive revitalization plan for our existing hotels, makes the Comfort brand family an appealing investment." To show commitment for the new Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites prototypes, Choice plans to offer development incentives for multi-site deals.

The Future of Comfort: Redefined and Redesigned

"With thirty years of successful history, Comfort is an iconic brand with guests and developers," said Goldie Williamson. "By the end of 2015, we'll have a refreshed system that is not only more competitive but also delivers a more consistent guest experience. The 'Redefined and Redesigned' plan is going to set the stage for the next thirty years of success for the Comfort brand family."

About Choice Hotels
Choice Hotels International, Inc. franchises more than 6,100 hotels, representing more than 490,000 rooms, in the United States and more than 30 other countries and territories. As of September 30, 2011, 430 hotels were under construction, awaiting conversion or approved for development in the United States, representing more than 35,000 rooms, and 94 hotels, representing approximately 8,700 rooms, were under construction, awaiting conversion or approved for development in more than 20 other countries and territories. The company's Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn brands serve guests worldwide. In addition, via its Ascend Collection membership program, travelers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean have upscale lodging options at historic, boutique and unique hotels.

Additional corporate information may be found on the Choice Hotels International, Inc. Web site, which may be accessed at www.choicehotels.com.

*Source: Element Market Research, Inc., Choice Hotels International Comfort Inn Design Test, January 2010. Respondents indicated that they would be likely to stay at a Comfort Inn with the Truly Yours design (75%) than the current design (40%) and to give the Truly Yours design high ratings (top-three box scores) on the brand positioning attributes.

**Source: Element Market Research, Inc., Choice Hotels International Comfort Inn Design Test, January 2010. Design test found that respondents expect to pay an average nightly rate of $93 for the Truly Yours design vs. $77 for the current design.

Choice Hotels, Choice Hotels International, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn and Ascend Collection are proprietary trademarks and service marks of Choice Hotels International.

Contact: 

Heather Soule
+1-310-993-3762
heather_soule@choicehotels.com
 

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Also See: Choices Hotels Appoints John Tague to its Board of Directors / January 2012

Membership with Ascend Collection from Choice Up by Nearly 35% over 2010 / December 2011

Ascend Collection from Choice Adds The Wesport Inn in Connecticut and the GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort in Naples, Florida / November 2011

Ascend Collection from Choice Adds Three New Properties in October 2011 in California, Michigan and Pennsylvania / October 2011

The 431-room Xona Resort Suites in North Scottsdale, Arizona Becomes Zona Hotel & Suites Scottsdale as Part of Multi-Million Dollar Renovation and Reflagging; With Membership in Choice Hotel's Ascend Collection, the Property is Owned by Sunstone US Hotel and Operated by O'Neill Hotels & Resorts / October 2011

Ascend Collection from Choice Hotels Debuts in Washington, D.C. Market with the 261-suite Virginian Suites Arlington Owned by Virginian Associates, LLC and Operated by Modus Hotels, LLC / September 2011

Choice Hotels International and Foulger-Pratt Companies Break Ground for New Choice Hotels Corporate Headquarters in Rockville, Maryland / August 2011

Choice Hotels International Opens 28 New Hotels in July 2011 / August 2011

Ascend Collection from Choice Hotels Debuts in Arizona with the 431-room Xona Resort Suites in North Scottsdale Owned by Sunstone US Hotel and Operated by O'Neill Hotels & Resorts / July 2011

Choice Hotels Executes Lease for New Corporate Headquarters in Rockville, Maryland / July 2011

Choice Hotels International Opens 27 New Hotels in June 2011 / July 2011

Ascend Collection from Choice Hotels Debuts in New Hampshire with the 40-room Lane Hotel in Keene Operated by Colwen Management / June 2011

99-key Ben Lomond Suites Historic Hotel in Ogden, Utah, Joins Ascend Collection from Choice Hotels / March 2011

New Owner of XONA Resort Suites in Scottsdale, Arizona, Sunstone Realty Advisors, Chooses Tower Rock Hotels and Resorts to Manage Property / February 2011

Ascend Collection by Choice Hotels Continues Growth with Addition of Eleven Properties in Final Months of 2010 Bringing Total to 70 Open or Under Development / February 2011

Three Canadian Properties Join Choice Hotels Ascend Collection; The Château Moncton and Château Saint John, New Brunswick, and Hotel Royal William, Québec / January 2011

Choice Hotels International Opens 33 Hotels in November in 14 States and Seven Countries Adding More than 2,500 rooms / December 2010

Choice Hotels International Opens 24 New Hotels in October Adding More than 1,600 rooms / November 2010

Choice Hotels Offers Significant Incentives for Hotel Owners Interested in Converting an Existing Hotel to the Quality, Clarion or Econo Lodge Brand; Incentives Include Discounted Application Fees, No Royalty Fees and Cash Back Upon Opening / August 2010

To Stimulate Brand Growth Econo Lodge Offering Up to $25,000 in Incentives for Conversion Properties / Aug 2003

Choice Offers Development Incentive for Conversions to Quality Brand; Up to $85,000 in Savings for Conversion Properties / Aug 2002
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