If you’ve been traveling for the past year or so, or even shopped for a hotel to stay, you may have noticed an unprecedented number of new hotel brands. Like new car models that get rolled out almost monthly, hotel companies are launching new brands almost as frequently. The rationale behind these moves is predicated on becoming more enticing to new travelers.
Major chains such as Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt are expanding their offerings in order to offer a hotel room for almost anyone’s economic or demographic sector. As the newest wave of travelers wash into the job market, millennial travelers have every hotel chain looking to offer them a hotel product that will appeal to their liking. The “I don’t want to stay in my dad’s Marriott” ideology is very much alive in these new travelers, and they are not only changing the travel industry, but they continue to place their fingerprint on society.
As brands proliferate, hotel companies seem to be trading in hotel brand recognition for parent company recognition. "The challenge with so many brands is ... it is very difficult to have this unaided recall of strength of a brand," said Bjorn Hanson, industry consultant and adjunct professor at the New York University School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality.
It's worth noting that Marriott, the biggest hotel company of them all, aired a commercial during the Oscars geared toward name recognition. It wasn't for St. Regis or W Hotels or Aloft, though, but rather for its rebranded loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy. And CEO Arne Sorenson noted on the company's earnings call a few days later that Bonvoy is the most important brand under the Marriott umbrella "because that's what binds our relationship with our customers across the entire portfolio." Baird senior research analyst Michael Bellisario backed up that strategy: "At the end of the day, I'm a Marriott customer. ... I don't care if I stay at a Residence Inn or a Spring Hill; I care about my points."