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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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.