How Does the Proliferation of Brands Impact Guests and Revenue Management?

By Tom Engel Principal, T.R. ENGEL Group | July 23, 2017

Co-authored by Elizabeth Karakachian, Marketing Co-ordinator, LHL Communications

The hospitality industry is abundant with more than 270 hotel brands globally. Nevertheless, this whopping number is not stopping Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and Hilton from expanding their portfolios with even more new brands. Theoretically, broadening the supply of brands is favorable for generating revenues from various distribution networks, loyalty programs and supply channels. But just how useful, helpful or even good is all this for the customer? Has the hotel industry gone mad by over-saturating the market with brands that are not all that different from each other?

Emergence of Brand Segmentation

Some of today's biggest hotel brands started off as family run businesses with a single location. It took a bit of time, hard work and some luck for these companies to expand into the global enterprises they are today.

Hilton, for example, started with a 40-room hotel in Cisco, Texas and quickly grew through acquisitions. Marriott, started with a Motor Hotel in Virginia in 1957, and then 40 years later purchased its initial interest in The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC (in 1995). Obtaining established hotel brands allowed companies to instantaneously widen their portfolio without having to embark on new construction or the creation of a new brand. INSTANT GROWTH.

Ultimately, lodging companies focused on growth within every supply and target market. As a matter of fact, the moment a new target market was introduced, companies, without any apprehension, created new concepts to distinguish itself. In 1998, Starwood Hotels & Resorts launched its edgy, high-end boutique hotel W New York. According to JetSetter, many critics believed this was a terrible business decision, stating that customers wanted familiarity and predictability over uniqueness, and a property which had no name recognition would be detrimental. In fact, W Hotels became one of the most successful brands in the industry and now operates 46 hotels in 24 countries. This opened the doors for many hotel chains to introduce their own boutique collections in the following years. Today, creating new lifestyle brands are still a focal point for our industry.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.