The Multiplying Landscape of Hotel Brands
By David Ashen Principal & Founder, dash design | October 09, 2016
Forget the 'less is more' adage-at least when it comes to today's hotel brands. These days, the more specialized brands a hotelier offers, the better. Or so it seems.
There's no denying that in the past several years there's been a noticeable rise in hotel brands. Soft brands with distinctive features and unusual offerings have grown, especially, in popularity, perhaps because they so neatly straddle that cumbersome divide between the unusual characteristics of boutique locations and the broad-scale offerings of mega-franchises. As industry notable Stacy Shoemaker Rauen recently said during dash design's debut dashChat podcast, people are excited to see something new and different. They want to be a part of something that shakes things up and draws them in, all of which leaves full-scale hotels that don't elevate their game or have a specific point of view in a precarious position, even while an abundance of brand tiers can be confusing to some.
Confusing or not, the rising surge of tier brands implies that hoteliers are responding to their guests' penchant for specialized properties that not only offer a different take on conventional lodging, but also align with people's myriad ideals. Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts, for instance, whose new unification creates more than 30 tiered brands, have shown a shift in their focus through the joint addition of luxury, lifestyle, select service and other brands. It's conceivable that five or six of the combined brand's different tiers could dot a short stretch of city blocks, alone, in the near future.
Still, reconciling a 30-brand hotel portfolio can be tricky, especially when comparing their similarities and distinguishing their beneficial differences. For instance, with the ready availability of Marriott's comparable Residence Inn hotels and SpringHill Suites, is there a need for an equally similar Courtyard by Marriott, too? Are the demographics among them that dissimilar? Or maybe their differences are being clouded, making them hard to discern.
On the other hand, look at the Marriott's Moxy and AC brands; two urban properties with marked differences. At Moxy, high design with a focus on experience at an entry level price gives this Millennial brand a "Brooklyn" vibe. The tiny rooms, while highly functional, play up the brand's public spaces, encouraging guests to move outside their rooms and into the hotel's public spaces to work, congregate and play. Here, minimal private spaces are accepted in exchange for live experiences, a criteria trait of the Millennial generation. Furthering the brand's hyper-social culture is its absence of a check-in desk, instead having guests check-in and out at the lobby bar, the center of all of the hotel's activity.
AC Hotel, while also an urban brand, offers restrained luxury with a European quality at an affordable rate, providing a moderate option for those who want a limited-service product without sacrificing sophistication or design, including omni-present Wi-Fi, streamlined guest rooms, a work/socializing lounge and a breakfast room with Spanish and European-style dishes, along with after-hours tapas and snacks, all in an effort to attract guests seeking a simplified, refined stay.