New Hotel Brands: Are There Just Too Many?

By Court Williams Chief Executive Officer, HVS Executive Research | March 03, 2019

No-one can accuse the hotel industry of not listening to its guests. But is there such a thing as listening too well, when you have so many people who all want different things? The multitude of new hotel brands launched over the past 5 years, particularly in the select service and lifestyle sectors, offers such a wide range of experiences that one can't help but wonder whether there are enough guests to match the number of available accommodations.

This raises several questions, including: Why is there such a proliferation of brands suddenly, is it justified, and what are the big brand strategies that are driving the trend?

Brands Breaking Boundaries

At the time of writing, Marriott International is almost certainly the world's largest hotel company, with more than 6,700 properties in 129 countries. These include 30 leading hotel brands offering more than 1.3 million rooms. Other large hospitality groups like Hilton and Wyndham aren't far behind, with a total tally of hotel brands at around 1,000 according to STR statistics.

It's not just about buying out existing brands, however. Many hotel groups are actually breaking ground with new brands, such as the new Hyatt Centric brand whose properties' claim to fame is that they are situated in downtown areas in the centers of all the action. These are mostly not new hotels, but existing properties reconfigured to the new brand.

Marriott-Starwood, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) and Hilton have all developed new brands, too. In 2014, Marriott launched its new Moxy brand, a boutique-hotel concept fueled by technology and aimed at the next-Gen traveler. Properties have 24-hour bar services, community spaces for meeting people safely (a nod to the online dating trend?) and other, hostel-inspired attributes.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.