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by Bruce Humphrey

Hilton is one of if not the most recognizable hotel brand names in the world today.  So how can a Hilton hotel not be what it claims to be?  Hilton is very conscious of its brand name and the standards required for their name to be over the front door of any property. So when is a Hilton not a Hilton?

Recently the Hilton in mid-town New York announced that it will be dropping room service from the end of August at this 1,981 room hotel. The reason for this change in service is financial; the hotel cannot make money so the decision has been made to withdraw the service. A sound business move, or is it? Over recent decades the large hotel companies have grown their businesses based on the Corporate America approach. The reason many of us stay in certain brand hotels is because no matter what location you are traveling to you know what you can expect from the hotel you are going to. This particularly applies to hotels after the frequent traveler business. 

If you start looking at hotels from a purely financial point of view, especially the upscale properties, then you can reduce costs across the board. Does a doorman make money? I know I am able to open my own doors, and often do, although it does add that special feeling when someone does it for you. Bellmen are they necessary? Most travelers today are more than able to carry their own bags and often do. I personally do for two reasons, first it’s much quicker and secondly, it does look a little silly have a carry on size piece of luggage on a cart.  But like room service there are times when I need it and I would like to know that a certain level of hotel has it there for me. It’s one of the reasons why I chose that brand after all. 

The policy of brand standards does not just apply to full service, but across hotels from all areas of the business. I doubt many travelers look at the star rating or even AAA’s rating compared to those that choose their destination by the brand of the property itself.  Admittedly hotel loyalty programs have some say in the decision, but most business travelers belong to more than one loyalty program.  I would go as far as to argue that branding has been so successful that it is the major factor when most people book their rooms.  Why else do all those franchisees pay all those fees after all?

Hiltons have room service, it’s part of the package, part of what you are expecting when you book a room there. Hampton Inn’s on the other hand do not. Now I am not saying for one second that the New York Hilton should be rebranded as a Hampton, but is it really a Hilton if it does not offer the whole package? Branding is about consistency, if you lose that consistency then you cheapen the product overall. If you are not one thing or the other then you are something in between.

Bruce Humphrey has worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years. He can be reached for comment at Brucehump@gmail.com.

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