Brand standards can make a hotel seem…well, standard. And with so many hotels flooding the market, it can be hard for travelers to tell one apart from the next, making it even more challenging to establish customer loyalty. But by carefully targeting specific types of guests and incorporating clever design and programing, a few hotel brands are standing out from the pack.
Business & Leisure
To attract business travelers, IHG’s Crowne Plaza brand has been updating its guestrooms and public spaces, adding touches that working professionals need. Hotels now have studio spaces off of the lobbies that guests and locals can rent by the hour for boardroom meetings, brainstorming sessions, and social functions (the rooms have touchpads for easy ordering of supplies and snacks as needed). The new WorkLife guestrooms have electrical outlets and USB ports everywhere so that guests can work wherever they’re most comfortable. Similarly, a moveable table makes it easy to work anywhere in the room, and a traditional desk is against the wall for those who like to do things the old-fashioned way.
Since Wyndham Hotel Group acquired Dolce Hotels & Resorts in 2015, the brand has focused on attracting business travelers with individual design and a localized F&B program. Dolce’s “Thoughtful Foods for Thoughtful Mind” program creates healthy and nourishing meals that are largely locally sourced and designed to keep guests (and event attendees) focused. The Nourishment Hubs, meanwhile, offer a unique twist on coffee breaks, with fresh, energizing snacks available in between meetings.
Hilton’s DoubleTree brand and warm chocolate chip cookies have become synonymous. For the DoubleTree in New York City’s Times Square, more than 1,000 TripAdvisor reviews mention those cookies as something guests both look forward to and appreciate. Combined with the brand’s reputation as one that welcomes pets (more than 120 DoubleTree hotels promote themselves as pet-friendly), the cookies help position the hotels as a popular choice for families.
Marriott’s Element by Westin, meanwhile, is focused on sustainability and wellness, starting from the ground up. Floors are made of recycled materials while the lighting and plumbing fixtures are energy-efficient. Guestrooms have paper recycling bins, recycled materials in carpets, and low VOC interior paints. For fitness-conscious guests, the brand has partnered with the Your Trainer app to help guests customize consistent workout routines wherever they stay. It also recently refreshed its “Bikes to Borrow” program through a partnership with Priority Bicycles, a New York City-based company that specializes in low maintenance bikes. All of the brand’s U.S. hotels have custom Element Priority Bicycles along with safety helmets available for guests to borrow free of charge.
The extended-stay segment is one of the fastest growing in the industry, with brands like Choice’s Suburban to Hilton’s Homewood Suites offering a range from economy to upscale. There are any number of reasons why families and individual travelers are choosing these apartment-like hotels with kitchens, making these options all the more popular for guests and lucrative for hoteliers. Depending on what the guests want, the hotel can provide cocktail receptions, hot breakfasts, and laundry services – or more limited options for guests looking to save money.
But while extended-stay hotels are booming, there is a definite niche in the industry that has not yet been filled – upper-upscale and luxury spaces. Of course, there are soft brands in these spaces, and there are vacation rental services like Hilton Grand Vacations, Wyndham Vacation Ownership, and Marriott Vacation Club. While some properties in these collections may offer facilities for long-term stays, this option is not the same as a consistent brand offering the streamlined amenities from one property to the next.
When a guest who usually stays at a Four Seasons, a Ritz-Carlton, or even a Renaissance or a Westin needs a room for a week or more, the options become a bit more limited. Could this be the next niche a brand can fill? And if so, what will a luxury extended-stay brand look like?