Evolution of Multi-Branded Hotels

By Lawrence Adams Principal, ForrestPerkins | November 04, 2018

Not long ago I coauthored a book published in 2012 titled Hotel Design Planning and Development, Second Edition with Richard Penner and Stephani Robson in which I wrote a chapter on Multi-branded hotels. In that chapter I described one of the newest trends in hotel development, a unique new product, that has since evolved into a significant hotel type with unique characteristics, advantages and challenges. In this article we will look at this relatively new product, how it is being developed today and what the prospects are for future development.

Hotel developers are realizing financial, marketing and operational advantages of building more than one brand on a single site and in many cases sharing a single building. Multi-branded hotel developments usually share back-of-house operations, administration, staff, recreational facilities and meeting rooms, but in order to maintain brand recognition and foster brand loyalty, they most often have separate entrances, separate lobbies and individual architecture and decor corresponding to each one's particular brand standards.

Often driven by high land values and limited availability of suitable sites, multi-branded hotel projects obtain efficiencies in construction through shared facilities resulting in a lower cost per room saving as much as 30 percent on development costs. Operational costs are also reduced through centralized management, staff and services. Cross selling is another advantage for hotel companies as guests staying in one brand get meaningful exposure to an unfamiliar new brand. But there are challenges that must be overcome to realize these advantages as we will review in this article.

AccorHotels is credited with pioneering the first dual-branded hotel in 1984 in Paris with the Ibis/Novotel hotels in the La Defense business district by repositioning an underperforming 600-room hotel in order to target separate price points with two brand names. Marriott first introduced the concept in the United States with the 988-room Orlando JW Marriott collocated with a 584-room Ritz Carlton in 2003. It wasn't until 2007 that Hilton joined the fray with the Homewood Suites and Hilton Garden Inn hotels in Baltimore. Then Marriott followed AccorHotels' lead in Europe in 2011 with the Courtyard/Residence Inn in Munich.

Types of Multi-Branded Hotels

Multi-branded hotels come in a variety of configurations. Early examples of multi-branding involved two distinct buildings that were in close proximity or on the same lot, but were essentially two distinct hotel buildings that may have shared administration, staff facilities and some back of house functions. But by not being conjoined did not achieve the efficiencies afforded by ones physically connected.

The dual-branded Homewood Suites and Hilton Garden Inn hotels in Bossier City, Louisiana
Shown at the far right, as part of The Wharf in Washington DC, The Canopy Hotel by Hilton and the Hyatt House Hotel
Marriott Place in Indianapolis is a multi-branded property containing four hotels in one block and connected via sky-bridge to a fifth Marriott hotel
/ SLIDES
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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.