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What would the hotel industry be without chain hotels? Can you imagine a world without online travel agencies like Expedia? Or what about a world without Airbnb? A few exceptional individuals made contributions to the lodging industry which revolutionized not only our industry, but the world. Thanks to the ideas, leadership, and drive of the 7 titans of the hotel industry, we can travel better today. In this article, we’ll introduce you to seven of the most important figures in the hotel business: Conrad Hilton, J. Willard Marriott, Isadore Sharp, Jay Pritzker, Barry Sternlicht, Brian Chesky, and Rich Barton. You’ll learn about their backgrounds, their career paths, the companies they founded, and how they fit into the evolution of the hotel industry. And you might find the inspiration you need to bring your ideas to life or to start your own company! The Early Days of the Hotel Industry The concept of a hotel is hardly a new one; boarding houses, inns, caravanserais, and other early lodging types have been in existence for thousands of years. These simple accommodations offered travelers a place to sleep, a hot meal, and stables for their horses. Early “hotels” were family-run and often located in the same building where the family lived. As travel became more common, starting in the 1400s, a few European countries mandated that hotels document their guests. These new laws signaled the beginning of the hotel industry - hoteliers were now running legitimate businesses in the eyes of the local governments. By the 1700s, every city had at least several hotels operating in the center of town to meet the demand for overnight stays. Many hotels became attractions in their own right, like the Le Grand Hôtel Paris and Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, which were famous for beautiful architecture and glamorous clientele. The Hotel Industry Boom in the United States Until the mid-1900s, nearly all hotels were independently owned and operated. There was also a clear distinction between the stylish, cosmopolitan hotels in city centers and the simple roadside motels in rural areas. Two entrepreneurs on opposite sides of the country saw opportunities to bring a high standard of service to the hotel industry and created the eponymous names that we all know today: Conrad Hilton and J. Willard Marriott. Conrad Hilton entered the hotel industry somewhat accidentally when his plan to purchase a bank fell through; instead, he ended up buying the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas in 1919. Seeing that he could run a hotel successfully, Hilton scouted out promising hotel deals and continued growing his portfolio over the next few decades. Landmark hotels like New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria and the Plaza Hotel became Hilton properties, and the company acquired the Statler Hotel Company in what was the largest real estate transaction of its time. Hilton is not only credited with building a global hotel empire, but also with popularizing the star rating system and combining hotels, restaurants, and casinos. Like Hilton, J. Willard Marriott didn’t plan on becoming a hotel magnate. He got his start in the hospitality business by running A&W Root Beer shops in the Washington, D.C. area, and built a sizable restaurant and foodservice business. When it came time for his next venture, Marriott opened a motel in Arlington, Virginia with great results. Marriott became known for his hands-on leadership style and perfectionist mindset, and as the Marriott company grew, he continued to stay in the middle of the action. In fact, he never retired from Marriott, even after his son Bill took over as CEO. Under their leadership, Marriott became the largest hotel company in the world with over 30 brands under its umbrella. In addition to Hilton and Marriott, numerous hotel brands popped up in the mid-20th century, like Holiday Inn and Motel 6. These brands could offer quality and consistency to travelers who didn’t want to risk a sub-par experience at an independent property. Remember, back then, there was no Tripadvisor, so brands offered an appealing solution. The Rise of Hotel Brands Speaking of brands, Marriott and Hilton are only two of the great hotel brands that shaped the industry. While Hilton and Marriott were building their companies, another entrepreneur saw an opportunity to create a new type of hotel: Jay Pritzker. Already an established businessman, Pritzker was on a business trip to Los Angeles in 1957 when he noticed a lack of high-quality hotels located near airports. He didn’t think travelers should have to choose between nice downtown hotels and seedy airport motels, so he launched the Hyatt brand, which focused on upscale hotels near airports. Hyatt Hotels eventually branched out to urban hotels, notably when the company launched the Hyatt Regency brand, which is known for its signature atrium design. But Pritzker wasn’t the only one to realize that architecture can be an asset to a hotel brand; as a trained builder, Isadore Sharp knew architecture would always be a pillar of his Four Seasons hotel brand. He opened the first Four Seasons hotel in Toronto in 1961, and guests appreciated the innovative courtyard design that allowed them some relief from city sights and noise. Sharp grew the Four Seasons brand to become a globally known icon of service and luxury, and the company now manages over 100 hotels in cities like Paris and far-flung destinations like Bora Bora. Sharp wasn’t alone in grabbing an opportunity to appeal to affluent travelers. Barry Sternlicht, the founder of Starwood Capital and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, also noticed a gap in the luxury hotel market when he launched the W brand in 1998. In contrast to the pretentious, stuffy luxury hotels that were the norm, W hotels offered a playful, youthful version of luxury. The W brand is considered the first “lifestyle” hotel brand, a trend which is still popular today. Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ portfolio also included brands like Westin and Sheraton, and in 2016 Marriott purchased Starwood and formed the largest hotel company in the world. Lodging in the Digital Age By the 1990s, hotels had taken over the world. You could book a Marriott or Four Seasons on six continents and dozens of countries. But how would you actually make that booking? Most travelers relied on travel agents to secure reservations, or you could call the 1-800 number for a chain line Hilton or Hyatt. That all changed when Rich Barton, a product manager at Microsoft, came up with the idea for Expedia in 1994. He saw how the power of the internet could put travel booking into the travelers hands - he just had to create a platform to house all the data. By the time Expedia went public in 1999, it was far from the only digital booking platform, or online travel agency. Competitors like Booking.com, Priceline, Orbitz, and Travelocity gave consumers access to good rates and information about hotels around the globe. The popularity of brick-and-mortar travel agencies declined as online travel agencies took off. Two decades later, the OTA space is dominated by two big players who now own the majority of brands: Expedia Group and Booking Holdings. But Expedia and Booking.com aren’t the only sites where you can book a place to stay. In fact, hotels are no longer your only option. Just as Uber disrupted the taxi industry, Airbnb offers a new type of accommodation for travelers seeing local experiences or apartment-style short-term rentals. Founded by Brian Chesky in 2009, Airbnb has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Chesky and his two roommates had the idea to rent out a few air mattresses in their apartment during a busy conference in San Francisco, and a few years later their company became a Silicon Valley “unicorn” with a valuation over $1B. Airbnb has grown to over six million listings and is planning an IPO in late 2020. What can we expect for the future of the hotel industry? The industry’s pioneers are probably already hard at work building something that will further change how we travel and experience hospitality. -- Brian Chesky illustration by mikenudelman.com
There’s no question that the coronavirus has deeply impacted the tourism industry. As the pandemic continues to evolve, however, what’s difficult to discern is the breadth and depth of its impact in both the short and long term. We’re still facing the repercussions of intermittent lockdowns, border closings, and economic stress, but these 50 statistics show the initial and ongoing impact of coronavirus on the tourism industry. We’ve broken these data points out into the following areas: Global Impact: 2020 and Beyond Air Travel and Transportation Hotels and Accommodation Food and Beverage Tours and Attractions Business Travel The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global travel is not black and white. Some tourism business' like smaller California wine country hotels and hotels adjacent to national parks have achieved record numbers despite a near complete shutdown of inbound tourism and international travel. Domestic tourism has been far from safe in the global pandemic with economic development initiatives supporting hotels, tour operators and other travel companies support their workers via aid programs like America's PPP (paycheck protection program). Global tourism will rebound from this the same way it did from the 9/11 terrorist attacks but experts uninanimously agree that it will take longer. The hotel industry has been devastated by low levels of international visitors as tourism demand dropped to all time lows with tourism destinations even turning potential travelers away. Read on for some of the most remarkable numbers showing the widespread impact of COVID-19. Global Impact: 2020 and Beyond The tourism industry worldwide is impacted by coronavirus – so much so that global GDP is expected to shrink dramatically and unemployment to skyrocket. Here are a few stats that show how tourism worldwide has been decimated. 1. Global revenue for travel and tourism is estimated to decrease by 34.7% to an estimated $447.4 billion. The original 2020 forecast was $712 billion in revenue. 2. European tourism is expected to take the biggest hit from COVID-19: revenue for the travel and tourism industry in Europe will decrease from $211.97 billion in 2019 to roughly $124 billion in 2020. 3. The tourism industry lost 1.5% of global gross domestic product after four months of being shut down, reported the UN Conference on Trade and Development. 4. If international tourism remains shut down over 12 months, the UN predicts a loss of 4.2% global GDP ($3.3 trillion). 5. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020. 6. Tourism is going to take a while to recover, says McKinsey. The consulting firm predicts that international tourist arrivals will decrease 60 - 80% in 2020, and tourism spending is not likely to return to pre-crisis levels until 2024. 7. Not only are consumers traveling less, but they’re also dining out less. Statista reports that the “year-over-year decline of seated diners in restaurants worldwide was a staggering 41.36% on August 23, 2020.” Tourism in the US In the US, the economic effects of a slowdown in tourism are expected to be on par with many so-called “developing countries.” In addition, the impact of a decline in tourism will have wide-reaching effects on many other parts of the economy. 8. The travel industry says it accounts for 15.8 million American jobs—that’s employment for one in every 10 Americans. That means the economic impact of coronavirus could have a major impact on the US unemployment rate. 9. Some reports predicted that the loss in travel-related jobs caused the U.S. unemployment rate to double from 3.5% in February to 7.1% in March/April. 10. Based on current trends, experts predict that the United States will lose far more than any other country in dollar terms and nearly double that of China. (Source) 11. In April, when many states encouraged or mandated that residents stay home, tourist arrivals in Hawaii fell 99.5%. Tourism accounts for 21% of Hawaii’s economy. 12. Florida also faced a drop in tourism, with their tourism sector declining 10.7% in the first quarter of 2020. The state reports that tourism has an economic impact of $67 billion on Florida's economy 13. On April 11, 2020, only 3% of hotels in Austin, Texas were occupied: 342 rooms were booked, compared to 10,777 in 2019. 14. Statista predicts a drop in spending of $355 billion in 2020 in the US, a decrease of 31%. Air Travel Consumers are not interested in boarding an airplane anytime soon, due partially to border closures as well as safety concerns and high ticket prices. Air travel is predicted to be depressed for a long time. 15. Travel restrictions at borders impacted air travel and other forms of transportation. There were four categories of restrictions impacting a total of 217 destinations: 16. 45% of destinations (97 countries) implemented total or partial border closures; 17. 30% of destinations (65 countries) suspended flights totally or partially; 18. 18% of destinations (39 countries) enforced border closures aimed at a specific group of destinations; 19. 7% of destinations (16 countries) required visitors to quarantine or implemented similar measures. (Source) 20. Data from Flightradar24 showed that the average number of commercial flights per day fell from 100,000+ in January and February 2020 to around 78,500 in March and 29,400 in April. 21. Despite many governments providing aid to the airline industry, passenger revenue is estimated to drop by $314 billion in 2020 — a 55% decrease from 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association. 22. As of May 4, 2020, international flights had decreased by 80% as compared to 2019. Many airports were closed and flights banned due to border closings. 23. IATA, the International Air Transport Association, reported in June, 2020 that coronavirus would account for a net loss of $84.3 billion for all airlines, worse than the $30 billion loss in 2008. Income is projected to remain negative through 2021. (Source) 24. IATA also predicts that plane ticket prices will increase, especially if airlines are mandated to comply with social distancing measures. Ticket prices may rise by as much as 50%, according to Alexandre de Juniac, the head of IATA. 25. One company tracking ticket prices during the height of COVID-19 found that fares through April 13 and May 4 rose 13.7% and 10.9% year over year, respectively. Hotels & Accomodations Sector Travelers are unlikely to feel comfortable staying at hotels in the near future, meaning low-occupancy rates will impact the hospitality industry for years to come. 26. Since mid-February, hotels in the US have lost more than $46 billion in room revenue, according to the AHLA. The industry expert expects hotels to lose up to $400 million in room revenue per day based on current occupancy rates and revenue trends. 27. In the US, AHLA found that individual hotels and major operators are projecting occupancies below 20%. For many occupancies, a rate of 35% or lower makes it impossible to stay open – and many accommodations are closing altogether. (Source) 28. McKinsey predicts that COVID-19 is likely to accelerate the shift to digital. Travelers will be looking for flexibility and be willing to make last-minute bookings as the situation evolves. Case-in-point: more than 90% of recent trips in China were booked within seven days of the trip itself. 29. The consulting firm also ran a few different scenarios to see how hotel RevPAR would be impacted: 30. In the worst-case scenario, RevPAR will be down 20% by 2023. 31. RevPAR of luxury rooms is the slowest to recover due to their higher variable and semi-fixed costs. (Source) 32. A July 2020 Ipsos survey found that 51% of Americans are willing to stay at a hotel, the same percentage as the month before. Attitudes toward frequenting hotels seem to be improving or staying the same. 33. US travelers have certain expectations of the tourism industry. The Tourism Crisis Management Initiative at the University of Florida found that airports, accomodations, and attractions must take the following initiatives to communicate safety protocols: (Source) 34. Airbnb is not faring any better than traditional accommodation options. The platform, which relies on hosts, have seen 64% of guests cancelling or planning to cancel their bookings since the pandemic began. In addition: 35. 47% of hosts don't feel safe renting to guests 36. 70% of guests are fearful to stay at an Airbnb 37. Hosts anticipate a 44% decrease in revenue for June through August 38. Daily rates have dropped as much as $90 (on average). 39. Hyatt reported a $236 million second-quarter loss, a 376% drop in income since the same quarter in 2019. RevPAR was down nearly 90%. Food & Beverage Many restaurants and bars all over the world have had to close due to coronavirus and social distancing measures. 40. In the US, full-service restaurant reservations dropped starting in March – visits were down by 41% across the country. (Source) 41. The scheduling tool Homebase reported that the number of hours worked at local restaurants and bars dropped 40% by March 17, while the number of hourly workers overall declined 45%. 42. Restaurant workers have been hit hard by the pandemic. The National Restaurant Association reports that two out of three restaurant employees have lost their jobs. 43. Industry advocacy group James Beard Foundation found that restaurants, on average, laid off 91% of their hourly workforce and 70% of salaried employees due to COVID-19 and closures resulting from the pandemic. 44. The National Restaurant Association expects that the dining industry will lose up to $240 billion by the end of 2020. 45. What will it take for restaurants to reopen? A lot, according to the James Beard Foundation. Restaurant owners report that these are the biggest obstacles to reopening again successfully: 41% say the slow return of customers, 35% say they need cash to pay vendors, 16% would need to rehire staff, 3% would need to retrain staff, 2% are worried about health inspections. 46. In-person dining may be off limits, but in one survey, 33% of consumers said they’re getting more takeout than before the pandemic. Tours & Attractions Historic sites, theme parks, cruises and museums were shut down for the majority of this year. Here’s how the tour and attraction sector fared during COVID-19. 47. UNESCO reported on International Museum Day that nearly 90% of cultural institutions had to close their doors during the pandemic; almost 13% may never reopen. 48. The New York Metropolitan Opera had to cancel its season by the end of March, and expects to lose $60 million in revenue. 49. Safari bookings, according to one survey, are down by 75% or more, jeopardizing the tourism industry in countries that need internationla visitors badly to support their economy. (Source) 51. The CDC issued a no-sail order for cruise ships, finding in their study that 80% of ships within U.S. jurisdiction had cases of COVID-19 on board during March - July. 52. Mastercard recorded a 45% drop in travel-related transactions as compared to the same period last year. The credit card company looked at cross-border transaction volume processed in three months ending June 30. 53. In March, 77% of members of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), an organization for travel agencies, predicted they would be out of business in six months or less. 54. The Walt Disney Co. lost nearly $5 billion in April, May and June, due to its theme parks being closed: Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, plus the brand’s resorts and cruise operations Business Travel 55. The pandemic has deeply impacted business travel: this sector is predicted to lose $810.7 billion in revenue this year. 56. China is expected to see the biggest loss in business travel from COVID-19, where spending is expected to decrease by a total of $404.1 billion. 57. Experts are predicting that 5 - 10% of business travel will be permanently lost, due in part to remote working tools that enable virtual meetings. 58. Business travel declined 89% as a result of COVID-19, more than the Great Recession and 9/11 losses combined. PwC reports that almost half of all businesses canceled corporate travel during this pandemic. (Source)
How do you get the word out about your hotel in a hotel industry that's more complex and complicated by the day? Between online travel agencies, SEO, CRM, and more, it’s easy for hotel marketers to feel overwhelmed. But you know that without a solid hotel marketing strategy, your hotel will have significant difficulty reaching its revenue and occupancy goals. Wondering where to begin? The challenge that most local businesses face is driving foot traffic. The old saying "location, location, location" helps them drive business but hotels need to be much more strategic in the way they market hotel rooms because the amount of passers by willing to purchase a room are far lower for a hotel than for other small businesses like a bakery or shoe store. So how do hotels get strategic and take control - online marketing. In this article we’ll introduce a plethora of hotel marketing concepts and strategies. Even if you’re brand new to hotel marketing, you’ll have a good understanding of the various hotel marketing avenues once you’re finished reading. Whether you’re a student, a professional seeking a career change, or a seasoned hotelier, you’ll want to bookmark our Ultimate Guide to Hotel Marketing as a reference you’ll return to again and again. Marketing on Third-Party Channels We all talk about the elusive guest experience but few understand that the guest experience starts long before check-in. Hotel guests may even start their journey on a channel you can't control. Perhaps they saw your property on an influencer's Instagram then searched Google and landed on an OTA. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, third-party channels are an essential part of the hotel marketing landscape. While some hoteliers begrudge third-party channels for charging commissions and eating away at potential direct bookings, there’s no denying that these channels bring massive marketing power and a global user base. It would be nearly impossible for an individual hotel to get the same reach alone, so mastering marketing on third-party channels, like the OTAs, metasearch, and the GDS, is a necessity. OTAs If you’ve ever booked travel online, chances are you’ve used one of the big OTAs, or online travel agencies. Popular OTAs like Expedia and Booking.com are marketplaces, just like Amazon, which you can leverage to put your hotel in front of millions of potential guests. In addition to the big players, the web is home to dozens - if not hundreds - more hotel booking sites that range from broad to niche. Diversifying your distribution strategy to include multiple channels, especially regional sites, is a great way to gain more online visibility. Of course, no third-party channel is perfect, and dealing with the OTAs’ problems is part of daily life for many hoteliers. However, their marketing power is their redeeming quality, and many hoteliers continue to use OTAs despite their challenges. The OTA market is changing rapidly especially with Airbnb's entry so it's critical that you keep up with the latest evolutionin this channel. Metasearch & Paid Advertising Besides the OTAs, hoteliers can use various digital advertising strategies and channels, like metasearch, to attract potential guests and drive direct bookings. What is metasearch, anyway? Metasearch sites like Kayak and Trivago aggregate the search results of other OTAs so travelers can easily compare rates across Expedia, Booking.com, and direct sites. Potential guests click through dozens of windows on their path to purchase, which means having a strong retargeting strategy is essential to capturing direct bookings. If a traveler clicked on your website once, your retargeting ads can remind them to return to your site to complete the booking process. GDS (Global Distribution System) While the OTAs, metasearch, and retargeting put your hotel directly in front of travelers, the GDS is one of the industry’s most popular B2B platforms. Travel agencies, airlines, and tour operators use the GDS to book rooms for their clients and partners, so hotels seeking to expand their reach or reduce reliance on the OTAs can find success by selling rooms on the GDS. Reputation Management No matter where your reservations come from, guests need to trust that your hotel will deliver a good value and experience. Reputation management is the practice of actively building up that trust - whether by displaying your hotel star ratings or by responding to guest reviews on sites like Tripadvisor and Google. Improving Performance of Owned Channels Though third-party channels play an important role in the hotel marketing space, let’s not forget about your own direct channels. Your hotel’s website and email communication are both excellent ways to spread brand awareness, gain loyalty, and potentially even raise your RevPAR by increasing direct bookings. What do you need to know to boost your hotel’s owned channels? Hotel Website Design, SEO & Content Marketing Driving your hotel website’s performance is possible when you focus on four key categories: Website design: If your hotel’s website isn’t attractive and user-friendly, potential guests are going to click off your site quickly! We’ve gathered some resources to help you promote your property with a modern, competitive website. If you’re building your site for the first time or upgrading an old one, our inspiring list of hotel website designs is a great place to start. These eye-catching designs will get the creative juices flowing. No matter which stage of website design you’re at, you’ll want to read up on 6 hotel website design lessons from leading ecommerce companies like Amazon and Zappos. Tips include adding a FAQ section to the booking page and organizing your room types in a grid layout. For websites with a lot of content, a content management system can eliminate stress and disorganization related to uploading text, images, and videos. Many content management systems are also easy enough to use that hoteliers and marketers with limited technical know-how can use them - no expensive web developers needed! Conversion optimization: Once you’ve invested in a beautiful website, make sure your website is effectively and efficiently converting guests. Conversion measures the rate of website visitors who complete the booking process. One of the best ways to improve your conversion rate is to implement a streamlined, user-friendly booking engine. But booking engine selection is no easy task; you’ll want to consider whether it’s optimized for mobile devices, compatible with your PMS and other systems, and within your budget. Hoteliers who want to grow their share of direct bookings must practice CRO. What is CRO? Add this one to your little book of hotel acronyms: conversion rate optimization. Simply put, it’s the act of making continuous improvements to your website with the goal of turning more “lookers” into bookers. SEO: Many potential guests will find your hotel’s website through a search engine like Google or Bing. That’s why it’s a good idea to continuously work on your website’s SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO includes countless strategies for ranking higher in the search results, appearing in searches for popular keywords, and ensuring your website’s search results listing looks enticing. A key component of SEO involves the content and formatting of your own website. On-page SEO helps search engines “read” your website so that they know in which search results your site should appear. On-page SEO strategies include using headings, adding links, and eliminating glitches. Some hoteliers use paid advertising to snag website visitors, but you can certainly increase website traffic free of charge - if you put in a little extra effort. Publishing high-quality blog articles, posting on social media, and engaging with review sites are all great ways to get direct website traffic for free. "Google has added a section in search engine results that appears above organic listings when consumers ask questions directly to Google. This feature is called a "Quick Answer,” and it takes a snippet of content from any page that is deemed to be the best answer to the question. To increase chances of appearing in Quick Answers, content should be structured and written in a conversational way that answers specific questions. Popular questions can also be included in sub-headings on the page, with answers below," NextGuest Digital Content marketing: Content is one of your most powerful tools in the digital marketing ecosystem. Popular blog posts or informative local guides are great ways to showcase your property to potential guests. Have writers’ block? Check out some hotel blogging strategies that you can try today. Email Marketing & Hotel CRM But your hotel website isn’t the only to engage with your guests; email marketing can deliver fantastic results, especially among your most loyal guests. Before diving into email marketing, you’ll want to have a hotel CRM (customer relationship management) system in place to store and track data about your guests. These systems help you gain insight into who your guests are and what matters to them so you can craft relevant email marketing strategies. Every email you send should contain an engaging update or offer, and it should always comply with the Data Protection Act. Before hitting “send,” make sure you understand the rules and regulations that apply to digital data and marketing. Email marketing for hotels can sound like a daunting task if your only tool is Gmail or Outlook. For more email functions, settings, and formatting options, you’ll want to use an email marketing tool like Mailchimp. General Hotel Marketing Strategy Although hotel marketing has plenty of industry-specific nuances, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of general marking principles. Ready for some Marketing 101? Let’s go. The first step to any type of success is to set goals. But all goals are not created equal. SMART Goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, will add clarity to your marketing plan. Speaking of relevancy, your marketing goals and strategies should adapt based on the types of travelers you want to target. For example, if you’re targeting business travelers, families, or Generation Z, your marketing strategies for each group should be unique. A key component of your overall marketing strategy is your content marketing strategy, which includes your blog articles, social media posts, Youtube videos, Pinterest pins, and more. Employing some creative content strategies can transform your hotel’s online presence. As you’re setting up your strategies, you’ll want to form good hotel marketing habits. Like brushing your teeth, it’s a good idea to make researching market trends, collaborating with other hotel departments, and learning about local events part of your daily routine. Want to brush up on your marketer skills? That’s a trick question; you should be constantly sharpening your marketing skills, especially considering that the marketing space is evolving rapidly. One such example of timely marketing trends is the BookDirect movement, which promotes the practice of making reservations directly with the hotel. This movement has influenced software functionality, marketing strategy, and promotional offers that encourage guests to book direct. Struggling to get potential guests to click onto your website? Consider hotel marketing with visuals that catch the eyes of travelers coming to your destination. If you need some inspiration as you think about your overall marketing strategy, you can learn a lot by studying your competitors (and scrutinizing your own hotel!) through a SWOT analysis. Haven’t done one of these before? Check out our SWOT analysis example for small business. With so many facets of hotel marketing, it’s impossible to become an expert on all of them while maintaining your day job! Working closely with a hotel marketing agency can bring to the table the expertise you need. Read our tips on how to select a hospitality marketing agency to ensure you choose the right partner. Maybe you’ve already read all of our articles above. So you’ve got a great hotel website, now what? The marketing landscape is constantly evolving, so there’s always room for more improvement. Have you run out of ideas? Read through our hotel marketing ideas list, which contains more than 100 suggestions. -- Do you still have any burning questions about hotel marketing? Let us know what we missed so we can improve our guide!
Did you know that big hotel companies like Hilton and Marriott usually don’t manage their own hotels? It's ok if you didn't. The structure of hotel management companies and the broader hospitality industry is dramatically different than most industries and most employees within the industry don't fully understand how it all works. Fear not, after reading this article you'll be an expert in no time. So what do we mean when we say that 'companies in the hospitality industry are structured differently than most other sectors'? An individual property might be owned by one party, be managed by another, and carry the brand flag of a third company - but these relationships are kept behind the scenes. This article is not meant to be advanced so we're going to leave out other stakeholders like debt holders, asset managers and special servicers (you're welcome!). Most travelers will never even know that the front desk agent who checks them into a Hilton Garden Inn does not actually work for Hilton Worldwide! How can this be? The world of hotel management is complex, so in this article we’ll break down the key components of this facet of the industry. We’ll dive into what exactly hotel management companies do, how they make money, and who the major players are. By the end of the article, you’ll have a solid understanding of the hotel management landscape - whether you want to start your own hotel management company, partner with one, or begin a career working for one. Pictured: The James New York Nomad, a Highgate-managed hotel Defining the Hotel Operations Landscape: Owners, Franchisors, and Management Companies Running a hotel is no easy task, and to do it well, you need a diverse variety of skills and resources. To maximize performance, profitability, and the owner’s preferences, many hotels use various entities to manage different operational aspects. Hotels generally fall into one of four ownership categories: Privately owned and operated: For the owner, this model requires the most hands-on hotel operational work. At privately owned and operated hotels, the owner takes the lead on all aspects of the business: hiring staff, maintaining the physical asset, running a hotel marketing strategy, and more. The owner could be an individual or an ownership group. Leased: Unlike at privately owned and operated hotels, the owners of leased hotels lease the physical asset to a different company who handles all aspects of the operation. The owner simply collects rent for the building and has no involvement in the hotel side. Franchised: Owners who want a more hands-on approach and don’t want to turn their physical asset over to someone else to operate might opt for the franchise model. Franchisors sign agreements with hotel brands for access to benefits (or limitations, depending on how you look at them) like brand standards, marketing power, reservation systems, and design guidelines. Franchisors often run the day-to-day operations themselves, like hiring employees and handling payroll, and they pay a franchise fee to the brand. Popular hotel brand franchises include Hampton, Holiday Inn Express, and Red Roof Inn. Managed: At a managed hotel, the hotel owner signs a contract with a management company to take operational responsibilities off their plate. Unlike the franchise model, the management company handles everything related to day-to-day operations - even staffing, payroll, and marketing. Some managed hotels are branded, and the management company is then responsible for upholding brand standards. The owner typically signs the contract with the brand, though owners often include their management company in rebranding discussions. These management companies focus on growing RevPAR, NOI and EBITDA as they are paid a % of revenue and often receive bonuses based on hotel profitability. 'Corporate' hoteliers tend to focus on more analytical tasks like SWOT Analysis and setting SMART Goals while 'on property' workers focus on tactics, day-to-day management and service delivery. Pictured: Carneros Resort & Spa, managed by Aimbridge Hospitality Many hotels across the world have separate ownership and management entities in order to maximize the effectiveness of both components. Owners can focus on the real estate piece while management companies focus on the day-to-day operations. What Benefits Does a Hotel Management Company Provide? We’ve established that management companies run hotels on behalf of the owner, but what exactly does that mean? What do hotel management companies do? Depending on the specifics of the property, a hotel management company can: Hire employees and handle payroll via a platform like Hcareers Run all operational departments, like front office, housekeeping, sales, and food and beverage Manage relationships and billing with vendors Adjust room rates and run promotions Perform preventive maintenance on the property and recommend capital expenditures Develop budgets and produce financial reports for owners Curate the hotel’s online presence (reviews, social media) and implement marketing strategies In some cases, coordinate renovations or expansions If the hotel is branded, then some of these responsibilities are handled by the brand. Brands typically provide marketing support, on-property technology for staff and guests, and guidelines for furnishings and decor. Pictured: AC by Marriott Seattle, managed by Crescent Hotels & Resorts Regardless of brand affiliation, the management company is usually not involved in major decisions about the physical asset. The hotel owner or ownership group (often a real estate investment group) decides when to buy or sell properties. While owners pay hotel management companies for their services, using hotel management companies can save money in the long term. Hotel management companies are experts at hotel operations so they can often run daily operations more efficiently than private owner/managers - especially if the owner has little hotel industry experience. How Do Hotel Management Companies Make Money? As a hotel owner, one of the most important points of discussion when negotiating a contract with a management company is the fee structure. Hotel management companies make money in a few ways: an incentive fee, a base fee, and/or a percentage of gross revenue. Depending on the type of hotel, the services the management company provides, and the owner’s goals, the management company fee structure can vary greatly from property to property. When hotel management companies receive compensation that reflects the property’s performance, they have a vested interest in running the hotel at maximum efficiency. Pictured: Hilton Atlanta Airport, managed by HEI Hotels & Resorts Top 10 Hotel Management Companies There’s no “typical” hotel management company; you can find management companies that specialize in certain brands, certain types of hotels, and certain geographic areas. Some management companies operate a handful of hotels; some operate hundreds. Let’s explore the top ten management companies in the United States in terms of number of guestrooms managed (guestroom and property counts in the US, source): The largest hotel management company in the US is Plano, TX-based Aimbridge Hospitality, with a whopping 182,000+ guestrooms and 1,400+ hotels in their portfolio. Aimbridge merged with the former second-largest hotel management company, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, in 2019. This merger brought around 80,000 rooms and 500 properties into Aimbridge’s portfolio. Aimbridge’s hotels are mostly Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt branded properties in US and Caribbean markets. Aimbridge is the largest operator of these brands in the world. Aimbridge recently launched the AIMClean program to ensure hotel staff are sufficiently trained in health and safety protocols. Aimbridge also provides renovation management, asset management, and consulting services. Coming in at #2 is Hyatt Hotels. You may be thinking, “wait, how can Hyatt be on this list if other companies manage Hyatt properties too?” Hyatt actually manages about ⅔ of all Hyatt properties, with 61,217 guestrooms and 372 hotels under corporate management. Hyatt is based in Chicago, IL, and their managed portfolio includes Hyatt brands in 65 countries worldwide, including boutique hotels in the Unbound Collection and Destination Hotels portfolios. Like Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) manages some of their own hotels - 301 properties and 57,804 guestrooms, to be exact. However, IHG takes an asset-light approach and only manages a small percentage of their 5,800+ hotels worldwide, which include brands like Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn. IHG’s headquarters are in Denham, United Kingdom. The fourth-largest hotel management company in the US is Highgate, which is the largest hotel management company in New York City. Highgate manages 10% of the hotel inventory in the Big Apple, and that’s also where their headquarters are. Highgate’s portfolio is made up of independent and branded hotels in major US markets like New York City, Miami, and San Francisco, with a total of 142 properties and 37,307 rooms. Crescent Hotels & Resorts takes the #5 spot, with 28,137 guestrooms and 103 hotels. Crescent is based in Fairfax, VA, and they manage Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and Hilton brands in upscale to luxury categories, plus independent hotels affiliated with soft brands, in the US and Canada. Crescent’s portfolio includes notable independent properties like the Mayfair Hotel in Los Angeles and the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach. Similar to Crescent, HEI Hotels & Resorts also manages Marriott, Hilton, IHG, and independent properties in urban markets and vacation destinations across the US, with 23,900 rooms and 79 hotels in total. Norwalk, CT-based HEI manages a wide range of properties from select service hotels to luxury resorts. Headquartered in Boston, Pyramid Hotel Group, #7 on our list, has quite an international footprint. Pyramid operates full-service, select-service, and independent hotels in the US, the Caribbean, Ireland, and the UK. The company’s portfolio includes Marriott, Hilton, IHG, and Wyndham brands, with a total of 91 hotels and 23,493 guestrooms. Pyramid has expertise in brand transitions and conversions. While some management companies work with a full spectrum of hotels, Island Hospitality Management’s portfolio of 177 hotels and 22,811 rooms include mostly select-service brands, such as Residence Inn and Homewood Suites. Island operates Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott properties across the US, and the company is based in West Palm Beach, FL. Crescent’s Fairfax, VA-based neighbor, Crestline Hotels & Resorts, takes the #9 position, with 118 hotels and 17,250 guestrooms in its portfolio. Crestline manages Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott properties across the US that range from select-service hotels to high-end boutiques. Crestline has won numerous awards, including Marriott’s “Renovation of the Year” 3 times! Another Texas-based management company, Remington operates primarily Hilton and Marriott properties, all located in the US, with their headquarters in Dallas. Remington’s portfolio includes 16,918 guestrooms and 86 hotels - all of which use contactless key systems. As you can see from this list, no two management companies are the same. Each one has their own strengths and advantages, which means owners can choose a management company that closely fits their needs. How to Choose a Hotel Management Company Hotel management companies vary greatly in terms of the services they offer, the relationships they have with brands, and their specific areas of expertise. As an owner, you’ll want to partner with a management company who has expertise related to your specific hotel asset and your goals. Are you planning a renovation? Then you’ll want to choose a management company who has experience with renovations. Do you own an independent luxury resort? Then you might not want to partner with a management company whose portfolio consists of only Residence Inns and Hamptons. Pictured: Residence Inn Orlando Lake Buena Vista, managed by Remington When comparing hotel management companies, we recommend comparing a few specific areas: Brand relationships: Is the management company a preferred partner of the brand you want to work with? Management companies that have built strong alliances with brands know the ins and outs of the brand standards, are well acquainted with the brand’s key team members, and can help new owners navigate the branding process. Services and expertise: Besides day-to-day operations, do you want the management company to take on additional responsibilities? Some management companies also offer services like asset management, renovation management, Portfolio composition: What kinds of hotels does the management company have in its portfolio? If the hotels in a management company’s portfolio are similar to yours (and are generating good results!), then you can be confident that the management company will do a good job with yours. Look at not only the hotel brands, but also the geographic locations (urban vs. rural, coastal vs. midwestern), the ages of the properties (historic vs. brand new), the target guest segments (business vs. group vs. leisure), and property amenities (pools, golf courses, spas, restaurants, etc.). Performance: Does the management company actually deliver results? Management companies should be forthcoming with case studies and testimonials from properties in their portfolio. Based on these documents, you can better assess whether the management company is the right fit for your business goals. An Overview of Hotel Management Careers Looking to build a career in the hotel industry? Perhaps you just finished your bachelor’s degree at a top hotel school and want to reverse engineer your path towards lucrative management jobs or maybe you’re an industry veteran looking for professional development opportunities to get you into corporate America and off property. In addition to working for the big brands like Hilton and Marriott, management companies offer some compelling career tracks for professionals with a variety of goals. Hotel management companies hire employees to work on-property in all hotel departments, and they also hire corporate employees who often work at their corporate headquarters. Hotel management company jobs on the corporate level include: Cluster revenue management teams with analysts or managers (centralized yield management is a big value add of management companies) Interior designers Contract administrators Financial management analysts Accountants IT managers Human resources managers Area directors or cluster general managers Hotel managers (GMs) Restaurant management and food service (often multi-unit) Event management and sales professionals Unlike on-property employees, corporate staff typically oversee or work with multiple properties at the same time. It’s not uncommon for corporate positions like revenue managers, sales managers, or IT managers to oversee dozens of properties - possibly scattered across the country. If you’re drawn to the hotel industry to build relationships with guests and enjoy the on-property camaraderie, note that corporate positions at hotel management companies are often very different than positions at the hotels they manage. The corporate roles are usually based in an office and reflect a typical office culture. On the plus side, corporate employees typically work standard business hours and receive time off on holidays, while on-property employees work less regular schedules and often on holidays. -- The travel industry and more specifically the hotel sector is filled with a variety of rewarding career paths from event planning to the culinary arts. Whether you're new to the industry, a hospitality student at Cornell University of even a Marriott International veteran of 20 years - there's always something new to learn in this dynamic and rapidly evolving space. Whether you’re researching hotel management companies to find your next business partner or to find your next career, you can surely find one that fits your criteria. Do you have any questions that we didn’t answer? We’d love to hear them!
Did you know that there are 214 Marriott International hotels in New York City alone? How about that The Algonquin Hotel is a Marriott property? And for bonus points: can you name all of Marriott’s 30 hotel brands? Hotel chains and major hotel companies are growing beyond the traditional standardized brands to include collections of boutique hotels, timeshare developments, and even vacation rentals. The proliferation of highly targeted niche brands, coupled with mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships and the rise of soft brands, has created quite the tapestry of hotel brands with literally hundreds of different hotel types emerging. Travelers today have options across the spectrum, even including dozens of choices within a single chain's portfolio. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve organized the world's leading hotel brands by both parent company and chain scale. For those who don't know the chain scale system, it's essentially Smith Travel Research's star ratings system used by hotel professionals to distinguish between different levels of properties. We’ll keep the list updated over time, so bookmark this page as a resource to consult on the current landscape of hotel brands worldwide. Whether you are considering which flag to put on your next property or want to figure out which brand you should book for your next trip - this guide is for you. First, we break the brands down by parent company, and then we organize the brands by chain scale. This gives you two ways to browse: either by portfolio or hotel category. Our sources include company development hubs, investor disclosures, Lodging Magazine, and Wikipedia. When it comes to each brand’s concept, we've pulled this information directly from hotel development resources to highlight how each brand is being positioned by its parent company. While some of this is certainly marketing-speak, this information is helpful to understand each brand’s target niche. We've also highlighted any key metrics around ADR and RevPAR that we found in company development disclosures. Keep in mind that this was prior to the covid-19 pandemic, so these numbers are most likely in flux. Using the STR chain scale categories, we organize this article starting from luxury to economy: Luxury Hotel Brands Upper Upscale Hotel Brands Upscale Hotel Brands Upper Midscale Hotel Brands Economy Hotel Brands Soft Brands (usually upper upscale) We also break out the hotel brands by chain in these articles: Hilton Hotel Brands Marriott Hotel Brands Hyatt Hotel Brands IHG Hotel Brands Luxury Hotel Brands Luxury hotels are known for their exceptional service, high-end finishes, premium amenities, and well-appointed rooms in notable locations around the world. The Pinnacle of Luxury Brands Planning a honeymoon or a once-in-a-lifetime vacation? Brands like Ritz-Carlton (Marriott), St. Regis (Marriott), Park Hyatt (Hyatt), Bulgari (Marriott), and Regent (IHG) offer truly unique experiences. From the moment you step into one of their grand lobbies (after a doorman opens the door for you, of course), you’ll be wowed not only by the stunning decor but also by the world-class service. Luxury brands like these target affluent luxury travelers who expect the best of the best. Pictured: Bulgari Hotel Dubai These brands represent the cream of the crop of the big hotel companies’ portfolios. They compete with renowned, independent luxury brands like Four Seasons, Rosewood, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, and Aman. Although these hotels come with eye-wateringly high price tags, you can sometimes snag a fantastic deal when you redeem points you’ve earned by staying at lower-end properties. Pictured: The Ritz-Carlton Macau Perhaps the most well known of the luxury brands is Ritz-Carlton. When you stay “at the Ritz,” you’ll experience not only white-glove service, but also spectacular amenities that include golf courses, spas, dining venues, and kids programming. Located in urban and resort destinations in 35 countries, Ritz-Carltons are known for their timeless, elegant aesthetic and legendary hospitality. Though they’re both owned by Marriott, a close competitor of Ritz is St. Regis. Spanning over 100 years of history, the St. Regis brand is renowned for service, style, and sophistication. Each property offers a unique afternoon tea ceremony, a tranquil spa, and an interpretation of the brand’s signature drink, the Bloody Mary. Pictured: Park Hyatt Bangkok Similar to Ritz and St. Regis, but with a more cosmopolitan flair, is Park Hyatt. As the pinnacle of Hyatt’s luxury brands, Park Hyatt properties showcase some of the finest gastronomy, service, and design in their destinations, which include cities like Paris, Beijing, and New York. Park Hyatt targets the most discerning travelers who travel, on average, over 30 times per year, and seek truly unique experiences. Looking for a place to show off your haute couture? Inspired by the distinctive style of the Italian jewelry designer, Bulgari hotels offer glamorous hideaways for the jet-setting glitterati. Hotel amenities range from private beach clubs, Michelin-starred restaurants, high-end spas, and customized tours and activities. You won’t find Bulgari hotels everywhere; the 6 properties are located in carefully chosen destinations like Milan, Bali, and Dubai. Like Bulgari, Regent Hotels offer innovative design, exceptional service, and a sense of wonder for frequent travelers who have seen it all - but at a slightly lower price tag. Regent carefully curates its small collection of properties so each one stays true to the brand standard.Regent’s collection is also small, containing 6 properties in 4 countries. Classic Luxury Brands While the ultra-luxury properties can carry a somewhat pretentious reputation, classic luxury brands like Waldorf Astoria (Hilton), JW Marriott (Marriott), Grand Hyatt (Hyatt), Hyatt Zilara/Hyatt Ziva (Hyatt), and Hualuxe (IHG) are more understated, while still luxurious. These properties are equally suitable for family vacations and business trips with their elegant decor, top-notch amenities, and genuine service. They appeal to wealthy travelers with discerning tastes who prefer a traditional aesthetic. Pictured: Waldorf Astoria Chicago A small step below its competitors St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton, the Waldorf Astoria brand is synonymous with timeless hospitality. This iconic brand stems from the original, century-old Waldorf Astoria in New York City, but now includes over 32 hotels in 14 countries. Guests can expect personalized service and luxurious amenities, including golf courses at many properties. Competing closely with Waldorf Astoria is the JW Marriott brand, which has a slightly less opulent aesthetic but a larger global footprint (110 properties in 29 countries). These luxury hotels offer one-of-a-kind experiences for the whole family, from art classes for the little ones to romantic spa treatments, with a focus on being present and mindful. JW Marriott’s target guests are “enrichment seekers” who want to engage with their destination. Like Waldorf Astoria and JW Marriott, the Grand Hyatt brand offers premium amenities tailored to all types of guests, from business travelers to families. Grand Hyatt hotels and resorts include spas, meeting and event space, dining venues, and refined architecture and decor, with notable properties in Tokyo and Abu Dhabi. Travelers looking for a luxurious, family-friendly experience in a resort destination should consider Hyatt Zilara/Hyatt Ziva, which offer a similar level of service and amenities as the previously mentioned brands. Located in vacation destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, these high-end resorts offer a premium, all-inclusive experience for couples and families. Amenities include top-of-the-line fitness centers, spas, restaurants, bars, and event spaces, plus spectacular outdoor pools and beach access. Hyatt Zilara/Hyatt Ziva competes not only with traditional luxury hotels, but also cruise lines and resorts like Club Med and RIU. Pictured: Hualuxe Wuhu Speaking of traditional luxury hotels, IHG’s Hualuxe brand takes tradition to a new level. Featuring traditional Chinese design, amenities, and etiquette, Hualuxe caters to elite business travelers in 10 markets in China. These hotels include nature-inspired decor, local food and beverage offerings, and meeting spaces suitable for conferences or social gatherings with clients. It’s a close competitor of Mandarin Oriental, since they both offer Asian-inspired service and design. Design-Focused Luxury Brands For the high-end traveler who doesn’t want to stay in a stuffy, old-fashioned hotel, design-forward brands like W Hotels (Marriott), EDITION (Marriott), Andaz (Hyatt), Conrad (Hilton), and Thompson Hotels (Hyatt) deliver exceptional service in totally out-of-the-box surroundings. You’ll feel like you’re staying inside a work of art at these hotels. Eye-catching decor, funky lighting, and unique architecture come standard. Though they’re part of major hotel chains, you’ll have a hard time believing these properties are remotely related to big-box brands like Courtyard or Hampton. Interested in more hotels with a creative bent? Check out the design-focused soft brands at the end of this article. Pictured: W New York Downtown Taking inspiration from music, events, and technology, W Hotels is a leading luxury brand with a completely unique look. This brand competes with luxury boutique brands like Morgans and the Standard. W Hotels think outside of the box with design-forward architecture, cutting-edge tech, and an emphasis on music. Many properties have on-site recording studios, high-energy nightclubs and bars, poolside events, and fitness classes that encourage you to detox before you re-tox. Like the sound of the W brand? You have plenty to choose from; there are now nearly 70 W hotels around the world, including destinations like Aspen and Barcelona. Andaz is another arts-inspired brand, though these hotels tone down the party atmosphere and turn up the sophistication. Signature features at Andaz hotels include modern design, high-tech meeting spaces, and state-of-the-art fitness facilities, which are especially relevant to the brand’s guests, who often mix business trips with leisure time. Each Andaz incorporates elements of the local arts and culture scene to create a unique sense of place. Like Andaz and W, Marriott’s EDITION combines luxury with design, food, and entertainment. The EDITION brand is the brainchild of famed hotel developer Ian Schrager, and every property features its own unique design infused with the character of its location. The hotels offer contemporary decor, gourmet dining venues, luxurious pools, and buzzing nightclubs. This new brand includes 11 properties in 7 countries. While Andaz, EDITION, and W feature design that’s almost larger than life, Conrad’s urban and resort properties feature subtler, contemporary design, plus spas, wellness facilities, and high-end dining. The brand’s mission is to inspire your experience with tailored service and on-site art collections, and these hotels target design enthusiasts of all ages. Focusing more on designing great culinary experiences, Thompson Hotels is a collection of high-end boutique hotels which combine the unique character of each destination with a mid-century modern theme present. Thompson Hotels typically include vibrant restaurants or bars and funky, unconventional meeting spaces. Close competitors of the Thompson brand include 1Hotels, Rosewood, and NomadHotels. Luxury Wellness Brands Who doesn’t love a good massage? Luxury wellness hotel brands like Miraval (Hyatt) and Six Senses (IHG) offer possibly the best way to relax (and redeem points) after all those business trips. These brands compete with independent destination spas like Canyon Ranch, La Reserve Geneve, and Rancho Valencia. Miraval is a collection of four all-inclusive wellness resorts in the United States that provide exceptional wellbeing experiences. These exclusive properties offer nutritious cuisine, spa services, and outdoor experiences to nourish body and soul. They cater to luxury travelers who want to unplug and refresh. Pictured: Six Senses Con Dao Craving an international escape from the stresses of daily life? While all Miraval properties are based stateside, the Six Senses brand can be found in 14 countries worldwide. Six Senses provides oases of calm set among stunning natural landscapes. Each property has a high-end spa and locally inspired dining outlets, and some have villa- or apartment-style residences that are ideal for longer stays. Upper Upscale Hotel Brands Positioned slightly under the “luxury” category, upper upscale hotels are full-service properties with premium amenities and notable designs that cater to affluent travelers. They’re usually located in major cities and resort destinations worldwide. Upper Upscale isn’t a one-size-fits-all category, though. We’ll explore three distinct types of Upper Upscale brands: traditional brands, modern brands, and brands that specialize in groups and conventions. Traditional Upper Upscale Brands With amenities and service that are pretty darn close to what you’d find at a luxury property, these traditional Upper Upscale brands are ideal for business and leisure travelers who want the best, but also want a good value. This category includes InterContinental Hotels and Resorts (IHG), Hyatt Regency (Hyatt), Wyndham Grand (Wyndham), Westin (Marriott), Sheraton (Marriott), Le Meridien (Marriott), Renaissance (Marriott), Hotel Indigo (IHG), and Alila (Hyatt). These brands often compete with luxury brands like Grand Hyatt and Ritz-Carlton, but come at a lower price point. Pictured: InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam If there were a chain scale between Luxury and Upper Upscale, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts would embody it perfectly. These sophisticated hotels offer high-end amenities and exceptional service to business and leisure travelers - a good alternative Grand Hyatt, JW Marriott, and W Hotels. InterContinentals often include spas, executive lounges, elegant meeting spaces, and stylish guestroom decor. You’ll find over 200 InterContinental hotels in 68 countries. Sitting squarely in the Upper Upscale tier is Hyatt Regency, which includes urban and resort properties that are suitable for both business and leisure travelers. These hotels are known for classic design, excellent service, and a wide variety of amenities like meeting spaces, business centers, fitness centers, and restaurants. There are also about 200 Hyatt Regency hotels worldwide, so you’ll always be able to find one in major cities. Pictured: Wyndham Grand Desert, Las Vegas Like InterContinental and Hyatt Regency, Wyndham Grand hotels feature amenities for both families and business travelers, including pools, spas, meeting spaces, and restaurants. Guestrooms include WynRest® bedding and modern decor, and public spaces offer a taste of the local character - plus great service. And don’t just take Wyndham’s word for it, 97% of Wyndham Grand hotels have earned a Tripadvisor rating of 4 or above. Pictured: Westin Anaheim Resort The Westin brand is on par with Hyatt and Wyndham, though these hotels incorporate a focus on wellness into every amenity, from relaxing pools to healthy cuisine at on-site restaurants to their signature pillow-top Heavenly® Beds. The brand’s partnerships with New Balance and TRX provide an array of fitness options, and many properties have kids clubs and spas. Westin hotels cater to business and leisure travelers who seek personal and professional success. With over 80 years of history, the Sheraton brand is a solid competitor of Hyatt Regency and Westin. This brand combines traditional hospitality with modern amenities in destinations around the world. Sheraton hotels feature elegant design, gourmet dining venues, chic executive lounges, sophisticated meeting spaces, and a slew of wellness amenities. Hyatt Regency has a much larger footprint with over 440 hotels in 70+ countries. Pictured: Le Meridien Koh Samui Marriott’s Le Meridien brand brings a touch of vintage French glamour to the Upper Upscale space. Le Meridien hotels feature mid-century modern decor, internationally inspired cocktail bars, and partnerships with European brands like Illy Coffee. Some properties have kids clubs, spas, art collections, and seasonal amenities or pop-up dining venues. Le Meridian targets the “creative traveler” and competes with InterContinental, Kimpton, and Hyatt Regency. Renaissance, another Marriott brand, fills a gap between the chic design of InterContinental and the local vibe of Kimpton. The Renaissance brand appeals to curious travelers who want to uncover hidden gems in their destinations. Each hotel’s staff members act as “Navigators” who provide neighborhood recommendations, and locally inspired on-site restaurants and stylish decor add to the sense of place. If Renaissance hotels sound like your type of place, you’ll be happy to know there are nearly 200 of them in 42 countries worldwide. Pictured: Hotel Indigo Berlin Centre Alexanderplatz Like Renaissance, IHG’s Hotel Indigo brand could be considered a traditional Upper Upscale brand inspired by boutique hotels. Echoing the destination’s personality, every Hotel Indigo offers curated decor and local cuisine that provide a boutique-style experience in primarily US and European cities. Each property includes 24/7 fitness and business centers (ideal for business travelers!), flexible function space, and premium guestroom amenities that could include rainfall showers and hardwood floors. While many Upper Upscale brands speak to both business and leisure travelers, Hyatt’s Alila brand is most suitable for vacationers who want to get away from it all. Alila, meaning “surprise” in Sanskrit, specializes in experiences that reflect a sense of place, like upscale gastronomy, outdoor adventures, and locally inspired spa services. Alila hotels are primarily located in Asia and can be competitors of Miraval and Ritz-Carlton. Modern Upper Upscale Brands Do you like the idea of an Upper Upscale hotel but crave a contemporary twist? Brands like Hyatt Centric (Hyatt), Moxy (Marriott), Tempo (Hilton), and Kimpton (IHG) offer the same high-quality amenities and service but with a dash of personality. These brands are also forward-thinking in their design; some offer coworking spaces and tech features that make them more attractive to a younger demographic. Pictured: Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami Hyatt Centric is one of the most popular Upper Upscale brands that has a contemporary aesthetic and vision. These modern hotels invite you to explore your destination through local cuisine at the on-site dining venues, staff that act as local “hosts,” and room decor that offers a sense of place. Every hotel has a multi-purpose lobby space where you can dine, drink, work, and socialize. Like Hyatt Centric, Moxy proves that a hotel with great style doesn’t need to be expensive. Signature features include a combination bar and front desk, a funky lobby packed with art and furniture, a cafe open 24/7, and cozy guestrooms with smart TVs and walk-in showers. Moxy bills itself as “edgy and affordable,” and the brand competes with trendy chains like CitizenM, Yotel, and Generator. Hilton’s brand new Tempo brand is an exciting addition to the Upper Upscale category. Tempo offers premium service and a collection of curated wellness and lifestyle amenities, including exclusive bath products and a complimentary tea and coffee bar. Each hotel also has flexible coworking spaces that target a younger demographic that mixes work with leisure. Pictured: Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver A longtime boutique chain, Kimpton is now part of IHG, but these hotels still don’t take themselves too seriously.. The brand is known for stylish guestrooms and high-end dining, and while no two hotels are the same, they all offer a complimentary daily wine hour and in-room fitness amenities - plus, pets stay for free. The Kimpton brand competes with Hyatt Centric as well as more classic properties like Le Meridien. Convention & Group Hotels Looking for the perfect hotel for your meeting or event? Gaylord Hotels (Marriott) and Dolce (Wyndham) are ideal for large-scale gatherings. They’re the perfect settings for functions that range from conventions to weddings. The Gaylord Hotels brand includes large convention center hotels that have everything you need for a conference, meeting, or social gathering. Every Gaylord hotel has over 400,000 square feet of function space and several dining outlets, while some also offer family-friendly recreational amenities like golf courses and water parks. All six Gaylord properties are located in the US, and they offer comparable service and amenities to Destination Hotels properties. Pictured: Dolce Athens Attica Riviera Wyndham’s Dolce brand is a curated collection of properties that are ideal for business or social gatherings with flexible event spaces and on-site catering options. Some properties have spas and golf courses, and most are set in tranquil, scenic destinations in the US and Europe. Upscale Hotel Brands The Upscale category includes full-service hotels with premium amenities that cater to leisure travelers and business professionals. Guests at upscale properties are willing to spend more to stay comfortably in a convenient location or remarkable destination -- but without splurging on over-the-top amenities. There are a lot of brands that fall into the Upscale bracket, so we’ll break them out into traditional, modern, and extended-stay categories to easily explain the differences between them. Traditional Upscale Brands These brands are the most traditional hotels in every sense of the world. They usually have restaurants, gyms, and rooms that have plenty of amenities, but nothing over the top. Traditional Upscale brands include Crowne Plaza (IHG), Wyndham Hotels (Wyndham), DoubleTree (Hilton), Courtyard (Marriott), Hilton Garden Inn (Hilton), Hyatt Place (Hyatt), and Delta Hotels (Marriott), and they’re suitable for both business travelers and families on vacation. Crowne Plaza tailors its offerings for business travelers with round-the-clock dining options, fitness centers, meeting spaces, and amenities to help you get a good night’s sleep. Most properties are located in major business centers, while some are in leisure destinations, in 65 countries worldwide. Crowne Plaza is a close competitor of DoubleTree, Sheraton, and Renaissance. Wyndham is a longtime brand that includes both urban hotels that cater to business travelers and family-friendly resorts that cater to vacationers. All hotels have meeting space, fitness centers, and dining options, and some offer pools, beach access, and in-room wellness amenities like aromatherapy and air purification systems. Wyndham properties are at the higher end of the Upscale category, competing with Upper Upscale brands like Hilton and Marriott. Pictured: DoubleTree Hotel Dallas Hilton’s DoubleTree brand is a close competitor of Wyndham. The brand is famous for their signature chocolate chip cookie at check-in. DoubleTree hotels cater to business and leisure travelers with traditional decor, fitness centers, meeting spaces, on-site restaurants, and golf courses and spas at some properties. DoubleTrees are set in primarily urban locations in 46 countries around the world. As Marriott’s largest brand by number of hotels, Courtyard hotels have business centers, gyms, pools (in some properties), and an all-day bistro serving food, Starbucks coffee, and drinks. Guestrooms are suitable for all kinds of travelers, with desks and modern decor. Courtyard hotels are more “cookie-cutter” than Wyndham and DoubleTree, and the brand has a much larger footprint - over 1200 properties in 56 countries! Like Courtyard, Hilton Garden Inn hotels are largely the same in every city - which is a great thing if you want to be confident in the hotel’s quality and amenities. Known for their classic, bright aesthetic, Hilton Garden Inn hotels are located in both major metropolitan markets and small towns. This brand is a favorite among business travelers, and each hotel has a spacious lobby, meeting space, a fitness center, and cooked-to-order breakfast available daily. On par with Courtyard and Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt Place is designed for guests who want comfort and consistency. Hyatt Place hotels have gyms, meeting spaces, lobby bars, and daily breakfast service (free for Hyatt members). Guestrooms include modern decor and workspaces, and you can usually find Hyatt Place hotels in urban, airport, or college campus markets. Marriott’s Delta brand also caters to business travelers who want both functionality and style, Delta Hotels offer fitness centers, free WiFi and water bottles, ergonomic in-room workspaces, lobby bars, and the 24/7 “Delta Pantry.” Modern Upscale Brands While the traditional Upscale hotels offer consistency, these modern hotels offer something unique. Brands like Signia (Hilton), Caption (Hyatt), EVEN Hotels (IHG), Voco (IHG), Dazzler (Wyndham), and Esplendor (Wyndham) provide stylish, communal spaces for working and socializing, refreshing dining options, and decor that reflects the local character. These hotels are competitors of not only the traditional hotels in this space, like Courtyard and DoubleTree, but also independent and boutique hotels in each destination. Designed for social and corporate gatherings, Hilton’s new Signia brand offers a sleek aesthetic, high-quality bars and restaurants, and cutting-edge technology in guestrooms and public spaces. The first Signia hotels are planned for Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Orlando. Another new brand, Hyatt’s Caption, is also centered around social connections, but with an emphasis on local cuisine. Caption hotels have flexible common spaces and a unique dining concept that combines a cafe, a bar, and a market at each property. Caption properties are slated to be located in up-and-coming urban areas. Pictured: EVEN Hotels-Omaha Catering to the fitness-focused business traveler, EVEN Hotels offer health-conscious cuisine at the Cork & Kale™ Market and Bar, state-of-the-art fitness centers, and spacious guestrooms with exercise equipment and ergonomic workspaces. This brand is a good competitor of Courtyard and Hilton Garden Inn, but it offers enhanced fitness amenities that appeal to wellness-minded travelers. There are currently 13 EVEN properties in the U.S., but that number is likely to grow quickly. Outside of the U.S., IHG’s new Voco brand provides a relaxed, homey experience for travelers who are looking for something besides a cookie-cutter chain hotel. Voco properties are located in the UK, Asia, and Australia, and many have on-site restaurants and living room-style lobbies similar to what you would find at a Hyatt Centric. Also found abroad, Dazzler is a stylish Latin American brand known for contemporary design, free buffet breakfast, and upscale public spaces like gyms, pools, and rooftop decks. These hotels are also reminiscent of Hyatt Centric. Dazzler properties are primarily located in urban markets in South America. Pictured: Esplendor by Wyndham Buenos Aires Located in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, Wyndham’s Esplendor brand features curated art collections, a boutique ambiance, and comfortable and classic guestroom decor at each unique property. Some Esplendor hotels have pools, spas, and fitness centers, and the brand’s target demographic is younger guests who appreciate good design. Esplendor is a solid competitor of Kimpton and Hyatt Centric. Extended-Stay Upscale Brands Some of us wish our travels could last for weeks or months, but for certain travelers, they do. Extended-stay Upscale brands like Homewood Suites (Hilton), Hyatt House (Hyatt), Residence Inn (Marriott), and Element (Marriott) offer apartment-style rooms that have everything you need to feel at home. These brands compete not only with other hotel brands, but also with Airbnb and corporate housing providers. Pictured: Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Hotel Circle/SeaWorld Area Marriott’s Homewood Suites brand is ideal for guests who are staying for an extended period of time - for business or personal purposes. Every room includes a full kitchen (with dishwasher!), a living area, and ample storage space, and the hotels provide free hot breakfast, a free weekday happy hour, and fitness centers. Fun fact: Homewood Suites was named as having the fastest-growing value out of 50 hotel brands! Named for the very first Hyatt property, Hyatt House offers extended stay accommodation for all types of travelers. Every suite features a full kitchen, living area, and up to two bedrooms, and on-site amenities include free breakfast, a gym, a coin-op laundry room, a bar, and a pool (at some properties). With a home-like ambiance, Residence Inn hotels cater to business travelers and families who need a place to stay for weeks or months at a time. Each room includes a full kitchen, a workspace, and up to two bedrooms, and hotel amenities include free hot breakfast, a fitness center, a nightly social hour, and on-site laundry. Renaissance Inn, Hyatt House, and Homewood Suites are all close competitors. For long-stay guests who are passionate about fitness and sustainability, Marriott’s Element brand might be the perfect fit. Element incorporates sustainable practices and a focus on wellness into the design and amenities at each property, which can include premium fitness equipment, bikes for guest use, saltwater swimming pools, and organic wine at the nightly manager’s reception. Guestrooms feature full kitchens and Westin Heavenly® Beds. Upper Midscale Hotel Brands Upper Midscale hotels offer spacious accommodations while catering often to extended stays for both business and leisure. Many of these brands have unveiled modern refreshes that bring the category out of the past and into the present. For more clarity, we’ll break out the extended-stay brands at the end of this section. Standard Upper Midscale hotel brands that don’t target extended stays specifically include Hampton (Hilton), Fairfield (Marriott), La Quinta (Wyndham), Atwell (IHG), TRYP (Wyndham), Wyndham Garden (Wyndham), and Protea (Marriott). Pictured: Hampton Inn Boston - Westborough One of the most popular Upper Midscale brands is Hilton’s Hampton, which is formerly known as Hampton Inn. This brand appeals to all types of travelers, with a whopping 2500+ properties in rural and urban markets, primarily in the US. Signature amenities include free hot breakfast, gyms, business centers, and multipurpose lobby space. A close competitor to Hampton is Marriott’s Fairfield, which is also suitable for business and leisure travelers alike, Fairfield is known for its simple aesthetic and efficient guestrooms. Most Fairfield hotels offer free breakfast, fitness centers, business centers, and meeting space, and some have pools. While Fairfield properties are a lot like Hampton, the brand’s footprint is smaller, with about 1150 properties worldwide. If you’ve tried Hampton and Fairfield and are looking for something new, the recently refreshed La Quinta brand might be of interest. All La Quinta hotels have modern decor, free breakfast, and guestrooms with pillow-top beds and HDTVs. Some properties have pools, fitness centers, meeting spaces, and pet-friendly policies, making them ideal for both business and leisure travelers seeking a good value. Maybe you’ve already tried La Quinta too - or you’re searching for a brand that’s more unique than the tried-and-true classics. IHG just launched Atwell Suites, which they bill as a new brand that speaks to travelers who seek personal growth and crave social connection, with flexible public areas, free breakfast, and colorful decor. Each Atwell hotel will have suite-style guestrooms, a pool, a bar, and meeting space. Pictured: TRYP by Wyndham Dubai If the Atwell brand strikes a chord with you, then you’ll probably like Wyndham’s TRYP brand too. Pops of color add a playful personality to every TRYP hotel, where you’ll also find at least one restaurant, a fitness center, free WiFi, and staff that serve as local experts. TRYP aims to help travelers have authentic experiences in the brand’s destinations on five continents. Many TRYP hotels are located in urban markets, and the brand competes with the hip Moxy, Aloft, and Tru hotels. In addition to its La Quinta and TRYP brands, Wyndham offers yet another option in the Upper Midscale space: Wyndham Garden. Typically located near airports or in secondary markets, Wyndham Garden hotels have meeting spaces, free WiFi, and daily breakfast service (fee applies). Some Wyndham Garden properties have pools, fitness centers, and lobby bars. Pictured: Protea Hotel Knysna Quays Marriott also has multiple players in the Upper Midscale space - the Africa-based Protea brand is a solid competitor of Hampton and IHG’s Holiday Inn Express. Protea hotels have full-service restaurants, meeting and event spaces, and free WiFi, and many have outdoor pools. Some Protea properties are located in urban, business-focused destinations, while others are in scenic leisure destinations. The brand currently has about 80 properties in 9 countries. Extended-Stay Upper Midscale Brands Staying in your destination for a while and want all the amenities of an apartment - at a fair price? Staybridge Suites (IHG) and TownePlace Suites (Marriott) offer two wallet-friendly solutions for extended stays that don’t compromise on quality. Featuring spacious guestrooms with kitchens and living areas, Staybridge Suites is ideal for guests staying in a destination for several weeks or months. Hotel amenities include free breakfast, a free social happy hour, a gym, a laundry room, and storage lockers. Staybridge Suites is a good option if you want a hotel similar to Homewood Suites or Residence Inn at a slightly lower price point. Like Staybridge Suites, TownePlace Suites offers everything an extended stay guest could need, from full kitchens and custom closets in every room to a free hot breakfast every morning. On-site amenities include Weber grills, a 24/7 grab-and-go market, and a fitness center and pool at some properties, and the 450+ TownePlace hotels are located throughout the US and Canada. Midscale Hotel Brands Featuring more amenities than Economy hotels but lower prices than Upper Midscale, Midscale hotels are found in urban areas as well as on highways and other transportation hubs. Many also have refreshed designs with contemporary amenities that today’s traveler expects. As new sub-brands emerge, we’ve noticed a trend towards increasingly modern and design-forward offerings in this category - which is dominated by Wyndham brands. Midscale brands include AmericInn (Wyndham), Baymont (Wyndham), Hawthorn Suites (Wyndham), Ramada (Wyndham), Wingate (Wyndham), and Tru (Hilton). We’ll start with the more traditional Midscale brands, then we’ll introduce the new, modern additions to this group. These Midscale chains compete with independent brands like Best Western and America’s Best Value Inn. Located primarily in the midwestern United States, AmericInn hotels offer free hot breakfast, fitness centers, indoor pools, and comfortable lobbies. Guestrooms include classic decor, desks, and TVs, making these hotels ideal for value-oriented business and leisure travelers. And travelers definitely like what AmericInn offers; 86% of AmericInn hotels score a 4+ rating on Tripadvisor! Pictured: Baymont Inn & Suites Miami Airport The Baymont brand includes unpretentious hotels that offer free breakfast, fitness centers, no-frills guestrooms, and thoughtful extras like board games and pet amenities. Baymont properties are located in rural and suburban locations throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. Baymont hotels are usually positioned toward the lower end of the Midscale spectrum and compete with Economy brands like Days Inn, EconoLodge, and Quality Inn. If you like the price point and no-frills attitude of Baymont and AmericInn but want a place that’s more comfortable for a long stay, then Wyndham’s Hawthorn Suites might be a good pick. Ideal for longer stays for business or leisure, most Hawthorn Suites properties include a fitness center, laundry facilities, and free daily breakfast and social hours. Guestrooms feature full kitchens, one or two private bedrooms, and living areas with couches and desks - making them a lower priced version of a TownePlace Suites or Hyatt Place. Pictured: Ramada by Wyndham Amsterdam Airport Schiphol But perhaps you’re looking for something with a fresher design and more modern amenities. The Ramada brand has been around since the 1950s, but today’s Ramada hotels offer 21st-century essentials like free WiFi and business centers in addition to free breakfast. Many Ramada properties are located near airports around the world, and some have pools, restaurants, and meeting spaces. Wingate is another brand that offers a new interpretation of the Midscale hotel concept. The corporate-oriented Wingate brand is known for its clean, modern aesthetic, spacious lobbies, free breakfast, and bright guestrooms that are perfect for business travelers who spend a lot of time on the road. Guestroom amenities include microwaves, mini-fridges, desks, and coffee makers, and some Wingate hotels have lobby bars and business centers. If you like the vibe of a Moxy hotel, Wingate can be a cheaper alternative. Pictured: Tru by Hilton Stuttgart A fresh face in the Midscale category is Hilton’s fast-growing Tru brand. The centerpoint of each of these cheerful, value-oriented hotels is the large lobby, which features a 24/7 sundry market, coworking space, plenty of seating, and pool and foosball tables. Tru’s efficient guestrooms have desks on wheels and spacious bathrooms, and you can work up a sweat at the on-site fitness center. Economy Hotel Brands Economy hotels target the most budget-conscious travelers. These hotels are often found on highways and near airports. The rooms are simple and amenities sparse, although the hotel usually provides a basic self-service breakfast. Like the Midscale category, Wyndham dominates the Economy segment when we compare the top hotel companies. Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG have no brands here - yet. Economy brands include Days Inn (Wyndham), Howard Johnson (Wyndham), Microtel (Wyndham), Super 8 (Wyndham), and Travelodge (Wyndham). Pictured: Days Inn Niagara Falls With its iconic sunburst logo easily recognizable from the highway, Days Inn offers free breakfast and free WiFi to travelers on a budget. Some Days Inns have fitness centers, pools, restaurants, and meeting spaces, and the brand includes over 1600 properties on six continents. Like Days Inn, Howard Johnson is also an iconic roadside motel brand. Featuring an updated look, today’s Howard Johnsons combine retro-inspired decor with 21st-century amenities like USB outlets and free WiFi. All Howard Johnson hotels are suitable for families and offer free breakfast, while some have pools, meeting space, and pet-friendly policies. Though the name might suggest otherwise, Microtel properties are just as spacious as other economy hotels, such as Days Inn and Red Roof Inn. These hotels feature comfortable lobbies, free breakfast, and free WiFi. Guestrooms are efficiently designed and include microwaves and mini-fridges, and some Microtels include pools, fitness centers, meeting space, and free parking. Pictured: Super 8 by Wyndham Dresden If Days Inn or Howard Johnson sounded like your type of hotel, then you might also be interested in Super 8. This one is also a modernized version of the roadside motel. Super 8 hotels are known for free breakfast, free WiFi, and simple guestrooms with amenities like microwaves and flat-screen TVs. Some Super 8s have indoor or outdoor pools, and the brand is present in primarily rural markets across the US, Canada, China, and Europe. Super 8, Days Inn, and their competitors are great if you’re on a road trip or visiting a small town for work. But are there any Economy hotels that are not located on the highway? Travelodge hotels are usually situated in urban markets, by airports, or near national parks. They offer basic amenities at a low price, making them good competitors of other Economy brands, Airbnbs, and even hostels. Many Travelodges have free breakfast, free parking, free WiFi, fitness centers, and pools, making them suitable for budget travelers or sports teams. Soft Brands & Collections What is a “soft brand” exactly? Having become a popular trend in recent years, soft brands are collections of independent hotels that maintain an affiliation with a larger hospitality company. These collections bring together boutiques and other independent hotels into a distinctive portfolio under one brand umbrella. Their connections to leading hotel companies allow travelers to earn or redeem points via a global loyalty program. While the hotels that make up each soft brand are unique, the soft brands themselves have their own characteristics. We’ll break down the big “soft brand” category into three sub-segments: luxury, design-focused, and boutique. Luxury Soft Brands Searching for a splurge-worthy vacation that will earn rewards points? Luxury soft brands like LXR (Hilton), The Luxury Collection (Marriott), Destination Hotels (Hyatt), the Unbound Collection (Hyatt), and the Curio Collection (Hilton) offer the best of two worlds: exclusive, luxurious hotels and resorts - and the loyalty programs of their parent brands. These hotels are great options for point redemptions when you don’t want to stay at a Westin, Park Hyatt, or Six Senses. Pictured: Habtoor Palace Dubai (LXR) On par with luxury hotels like Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis, LXR’s exclusive collection of luxury hotels and resorts targets affluent travelers with a sense of adventure and an appreciation for personalized service. Renowned LXR properties include Zemi Beach House in Anguilla and The Biltmore, Mayfair in London. Properties in this collection are similar to what you’ll find in the Luxury Collection and Destination Hotels. A close competitor of LXR, Marriott’s Luxury Collection includes 236 properties in 55 countries. Set in truly unique destinations, often away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Luxury Collection hotels offer bucket list-worthy accommodations and local experiences that you can’t find anywhere else. The Luxury Collection includes Vedema in Santorini (where you can taste wine in an ancient cave) and Solaz in Los Cabos (where you can explore an on-site museum). Pictured: Wild Dunes Resort (Destination Hotels) Destination Hotels offers beautiful properties with a more family-friendly atmosphere than some ultra-premium brands. With hotels located in remarkable locations across the United States, Destination’s collection includes properties that specialize in spa, golf, and luxury experiences and offer amenities for business and leisure travelers - similar to yet slightly above what you’d find at Marriott’s Autograph Collection. One-of-a-kind Destination Hotels include The Lodge at Kukui’ula in Hawai’i and Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina. Positioned just beneath true luxury collections like LXR and Destination, the Unbound Collection includes luxury and upper-upscale hotels that range from historic to ultra-modern and cosmopolitan to secluded. The Unbound Collection’s guests “crave the unconventional and expect the exceptional,” so you can be sure you will get a truly unique experience. Examples of Unbound Collection properties are the Carmelo Resort & Spa in Carmelo, Uruguay and The Eliza Jane in New Orleans. Pictured: Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton While Destination and the Unbound Collection include many family-friendly properties in leisure vacation destinations, Hilton’s Curio Collection is known for its portfolio of historic, distinctive four- and five-star hotels. This brand targets open-minded travelers, both business travelers and vacation-goers, who want the experience of an independent hotel and the level of service expected from an upscale Hilton. Notable Curio hotels include The Trafalgar St. James London and The Logan Philadelphia. Design-Focused Soft Brands All soft brands technically place emphasis on design - since they’re a far cry from the “big box” brands - but this group makes a special effort to include properties that are truly exceptional. Both Design Hotels (Marriott) and Tribute Portfolio (Marriott) can be viewed as competitors of luxury or upper upscale brands, but a better comparison is to truly independent hotels or independent-leaning chains like Leading Hotels of the World. Since each one of these hotels is so unique, you wouldn’t know it’s part of a “chain” unless someone told you! Pictured: Ion Adventure Hotel, Selfoss, Iceland (Design Hotels) With striking architecture and inventive decor, Design Hotels push the boundaries of the traditional image of a hotel. These hotels are located in a variety of locations around the world, from cities to remote beaches, The Design Hotels collection includes over 300 properties on six continents. Exceptionally notable hotels are Habita in Mexico City and Analeya in Marrakech. Pictured: The Vagabond Club Singapore (Tribute Portfolio) Like Design Hotels, the Tribute Portfolio includes design-forward properties, but with emphasis on warm, genuine hospitality, curated art and decor, and notable dining venues. Many Tribute hotels feature distinctive themes, like the baseball-inspired Hotel Zachary in Chicago and the whiskey-obsessed Vagabond Club in Singapore. Most are suitable for both business and leisure travel, and the collection is viewed as a competitor of the Curio Collection and Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Boutique Soft Brands Not all soft brands are positioned at the luxury end of the spectrum - which is good news for travelers who are searching for the boutique vibe at a lower price point. Boutique soft brands like the Autograph Collection (Marriott), the Tapestry Collection (Hilton), Joie de Vivre (Hyatt), and the Trademark Collection (Wyndham) include a range of hotels at various price points. Some of these hotels are on par with a Waldorf or a Ritz, while others can be considered competitors of Hyatt Centric or Tru. Pictured: The Brown Palace Hotel (Autograph Collection) The Autograph Collection contains boutique hotels especially well suited for foodies, design fans, stylish business travelers, and corporate retreats - which are broken out in sub-collections. You can find a wide spectrum of hotels in this group, from exquisite luxury properties to hip yet simple boutiques. The collection includes over 200 hotels in 32 countries. Notable Autograph properties include The Douglas in Vancouver and Cotton House Hotel in Barcelona. Positioned slightly beneath the Curio Collection, the Tapestry Collection is made up of boutique hotels with their own unique personalities. The Tapestry Collection caters to a younger demographic with amenities that are especially relevant to millennials. Examples of Tapestry hotels include the Hotel Skyler in Syracuse, NY and The Bernic Hotel in New York City. Pictured: The Laurel Inn (Joie de Vivre) Joie de Vivre includes boutique hotels like the Autograph and Tapestry Collections, but this group focuses on bringing local character and thoughtful design to life via chef-driven restaurants, creative meeting spaces, and stylish guestrooms packed with modern amenities. These hotels have a trendy vibe and offer plenty of spaces for socializing, similar to Kimpton. The Joie de Vivre brand includes Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco and Hotel Revival in Baltimore. The Trademark Collection includes unique properties that offer a sense of place and amenities that business and leisure travelers want: on-site dining, access to a fitness center, and flexible meeting space at most properties. Members of the Trademark Collection include The Burgess Hotel in Atlanta and the H+ group in Germany. -- With so many hotel groups and brands to choose from, you can find a segment or subset that truly speaks to your traveling style, price range, and amenity needs. We intentionally left out major brands not owned by the big hotel chains like Omni, Loews, Four Seasons Hotels and even bigger groups like Accor, Best Western, Choice Hotels, Comfort Inn, Motel 6 and Radisson. And if you’re exploring hotel investment or franchising opportunities, you can surely find the perfect brand for your business goals. Once you've launched your hotel and chosen a brand it's time to select a hotel management company.
Marketing Category Press Releases
15 technology companies have come together to create transparency for hotel technology buyers around the world. The initiative, facilitated by Hotel Tech Report, rates hotel software vendor customer support processes on more than 30 key variables to help buyers make better partner decisions. Each year hotel owners lose billions of dollars due to software downtime and unused features. By leveraging the new GCSC Global Customer Support Certification, hoteliers can confidently enter new technology partnerships with transparency into the support systems that are in place to mitigate such issues. Software inevitably goes down and great customer support is the best defense against steep losses. Hoteliers who work with Hotel Tech Report Support Certified vendors also know that those partners have invested in training materials and content to ensure that their teams have everything they need to realize successful outcomes. The certification creates accountability in the vendor community to maintain the highest levels of service for clients through an annual audit by analysts at Hotel Tech Report, the world’s largest technology research platform and online community for the global hotel industry. Leading firms such as Mews Systems, OTA Insight and IDeaS Revenue Solutions have been key supporters of this new industry standard which paves the path for better relationships between technology firms and their hotel clients. “We initially came to Hotel Tech Report with a simple concept. Our hypothesis was that companies with great customer support would be happy to grant full transparency around their support KPIs with Hotel Tech Report and that companies with subpar support would never give that kind of access. The team at HTR has brought that concept to life and we’re proud to give full transparency into how we engage, educate and support our customers on a global scale. Ultimately this support certification is an easy way for hoteliers to identify the companies who really treat their clients as partners - it’s a gamechanger for the industry,” says Richard Valtr, Founder of Mews Systems. Decision makers at hotel groups often spend months researching software feature functionality and pricing - but rarely are they able to develop deep insights into how the relationship changes and the level of support their team will receive once the contract is signed. “Hoteliers are constantly rated by parties like JD Power and AAA on the service they deliver to guests which ultimately helps guests find the best hotels. With this initiative, hoteliers can now benefit from the peace of mind that comes with knowing their future vendors have not only been pre-vetted for professional customer support prior to contract lock-in but they can also easily learn about which tools and processes are most important and which one’s prospective vendors have invested in to help them succeed beyond deal close.” ~Adam Hollander, Hotel Tech Report Poor customer support is incredibly costly for both hotel software buyers and sellers. For buyers, poor customer support from technology vendors can lead to lost revenue, poor guest satisfaction and weak ROIs on technology spend. “When a booking engine goes down hoteliers can lose thousands of dollars each minute. What if it takes 24-hours to reach their vendor’s support team and fix the issue? Hoteliers rarely anticipate, let alone, calculate these kinds of costs when signing up with a new vendor because they’re out of sight and out of mind. Once it happens to them they go into a panic and wish they knew ahead of time,” says Hollander. Another benefit of strong customer engagement processes is maximization of software feature functionality. A study conducted on 3.8M software users shows that $30B is wasted each year on unused software in the U.S. alone. Vendors that meet Hotel Tech Report’s support certification have been pre-vetted for the tools and processes necessary to ensure that hotel teams will be properly trained on all feature functionality which ultimately helps them maximize their investments in software and achieve higher ROIs on their software spend. "45% of software features across the SaaS sector never get used. This is a huge waste. While OTA Insight's usage stats show that the intuitive features in our tools are very well used, we strive for more than just delivering software that works properly; we're committed to ensuring that clients can maximize their investments by ensuring our products and functionality are simple, intuitive and add value. With a heavy focus on customer feedback and input, this informs our ongoing product development," says James Parsons of OTA Insight. Founding members of the GCSC Customer Support Certification rallied across the globe to bring this initiative to life. Each founding member granted Hotel Tech Report access to their internal systems for the team to rate service delivery with its proprietary support certification framework. Founding Members of the Global Support Certification include: Mews Systems (Prague) IDeaS (Minneapolis) OTA Insight (London) TrustYou (Munich) Travel Tripper (New York) Hotelchamp (Amsterdam) Oaky (Amsterdam) Revinate (San Francisco) D-EDGE (Paris) Pace (London) Beekeeper (Zurich) RevControl (Eindhoven) Hotel Effectiveness (Atlanta) GuestRevu (Port Alfred) Stardekk (Brugge) The GCSC Global Customer Support Certification is now live for hotel technology suppliers to apply for certification. This budget season, for the first time ever, hotel tech buyers can easily vet customer support for future vendors and access support certification details right from company profiles on Hotel Tech Report. Learn more about the certification
Registration is now open for the 2020 HotelTechAwards (www.hoteltechawards.com), the industry's only data driven awards platform that recognizes best of breed hotel technology companies who win in the eyes of the judges that matter most - their customers. 2019 winners of the HotelTechAwards included top hotel technology companies such as TravelClick, Beekeeper, Screen Pilot, Atomize and Oaky. New York based ALICE won "The Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech" edging out runner up Mews Systems (10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech). "Revenue generation and operations have become very complex for hotels, threatening profitability and detracting from the customer experience. The answer lies in innovative technology solutions, which can disrupt the disruptors. The HotelTechAwards recognize these technologies and their beneficial impact on the future of our industry." says Marc Heyneker, CEO at Revinate, one of the hotel tech industry's most recognized brands and 2019’s top rated Hotel CRM. Companies are competing for category leadership across marketing, revenue management, guest experience, operations and sales technology. Hotel technology companies ranging from hardware to software and service businesses like digital marketing agencies are eligible for nomination. More than 40 companies around the world have already pre-registered for the competition. Registration closes on September 1st. Voting will take place through December 31, 2019 and winners of the 2020 HotelTechAwards will be announced on January 15, 2020. "As a former hotelier there was ultimately one thing my team wanted to know about prospective technology partners," says Jordan Hollander, co-founder of Hotel Tech Report. "We wanted to know what other hoteliers like us thought about the service providers, that they were tried and true and that the company could deliver on their sales promises. The HotelTechAwards were designed to do exactly that - they help hoteliers see what people like them honestly think about products and services to help them make better decisions for their properties." Learn more about the HotelTechAwards and register now at www.hoteltechawards.com
For the past 3-months, more than one hundred of the hotel industry's top tech firms across 40+ countries have campaigned in the 2018 HotelTechAwards joining in Hotel Tech Report's mission by leveraging customer feedback and transparency to speed up the pace of global innovation. Companies competed for the coveted top spot across 30 critical categories of hotel technology and today, Hotel Tech Report is proud to announce the 2018 winners. The HotelTechAwards segment top technologies into the following categories: Marketing - technology that attracts new customers Revenue - technology that optimizes distribution and informs business strategy Operations - technology that helps hotels run efficiently Guest Experience - technology that differentiates the guest stay at a hotel Hotel Tech Report's global hotelier community rallied behind participating top vendors by contributing invaluable qualitative product feedback as well as more than 7,500 data points across key metrics including: ease of use, customer service, implementation, ROI and likelihood to recommend (learn more about scoring) to help determine winners. So what is the significance of the HotelTechAwards? "For the first time, hoteliers can reference an unbiased source of information provided by their peers and verified by a 3rd party to help them easily learn about and discover the best technology for their hotels. Hoteliers can often be slow to adopt new technology. The reality is that they're slow for a reason--the wrong choice in a vendor can risk both their hotel's profitability and even their personal career" says Hotel Tech Report's Adam Hollander. "Whether its lost revenue from a poorly optimized mobile website, a lawsuit from a security system that failed to record or a hit to their P&L from a poorly calibrated revenue management system--hoteliers are justified in being especially cautious during the technology vendor selection process. The HotelTechAwards serve as a platform to help educate hoteliers and keep their respective hotels competitive in a world where tech giants like Airbnb and Expedia are looking more like their compset than ever." Quantitative data is extremely important for selecting the right technology for any hotel company. What is the ROI? What’s the uplift in conversion, how does a product improve guest satisfaction scores or decrease service response times? Quantitative data drives the promises made by vendors during the sales process. Subjective data from unbiased customer reviews enables decision makers to see how well vendors deliver on those promises. The winners of the HotelTechAwards are the companies who have both world class products and incredibly strong relationships with their customers. To all of the companies (view all) who embraced customer feedback and transparency by campaigning in the 2018 HotelTechAwards, we commend you for your service to the industry at large and are now proud to present to you--the winners of the 2018 HotelTechAwards: Bonus Feature: The 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech
Marketing Category Overview
Historically hotel marketers have been focused on PR and community engagement; however, in today's digital distribution landscape it is critical for hotel marketers to be tech savvy and know how to use the proper tools. Just as a major tech company wouldn't hire a sales rep who can't use Salesforce or Marketo - your hotel should avoid candidates who don't know how to operate the tech tools needed to properly market your hotel.
Here are some of the critical software and service categories that every hotel marketer must be familiar with to succeed.
Every hotel (branded or independent) needs a digital marketing agency partner. The OTAs are taking guests away from you and charging 15%+ commission on each booking. What digital marketing agencies do is make sure that your property is interacting with your guests throughout the entire booking journey and that these prospective guests are ultimately booking directly through your website. The channels and strategies involved in any agency's approach and are highly customized to each property. Using a blended approach to media distribution and channel distribution in addition to behavioral and personalization techniques both on and off website, a digital marketing agency should drive incremental direct bookings for your hotel.
Key Digital Marketing Agency Services:
- Website development
- Email marketing
- Metasearch management
- Social media management
- Paid advertising
Top Hotel Digital Marketing Agencies:
- Screen Pilot
- Travel Tripper
- Net Affinity
- Incite Response
- Lights on Digital
- Milestone Internet
An internet booking engine is essentially the shopping cart equivalent for a hotel website and it’s sole purpose is to drive and convert direct bookings. A good booking engine is optimized for conversion by providing a seamless booking process where your guests can view rates and room types and complete a booking as simply as possible. An effective booking engine should map data directly into your property management system through a channel manager.
Key Booking Engine Features:
- Channel Manager Integration: To ensure that your room inventory across all of your online channels is automatically updated, it’s vital that your booking engine integrates with your channel manager.
- Mobile & Social Media Compatibility: It is absolutely essential that your booking engine works seamlessly on mobile and is compatible with the social media websites that your hotel is listed on.
- Data Collection: Your booking engine should provide you with transparent, in-depth insights that will allow you to find demand and booking patterns.
- Flexible to Your Hotels Needs: Does the booking engine display the languages and currency that your guests are familiar with? Does it provide online voucher redemption or does it offer wedding and corporate booking modules? These are some questions to determine if the booking engine is flexible to your hotel’s needs.
- Set up, Service & Support: Perhaps the most important point of all is service i.e. how you are looked after by your provider. What is their set up, ongoing support and training like? Do they make you feel special? Is your business important to them?
- Net Affinity
- Travel Tripper RezTrip
- Cloudbeds Mybookings
- TravelClick iHotelier
- SiteMinder BookingButton
- SHR Windsurfer
- Sabre Synxis
- Vertical Booking
Direct Booking Platforms boost the performance of your current website and booking engine with tools that add a layer of personalization to your website. The most effective platforms track user behavior on hotel websites and then serve tailored messages and promotions based on that behavior - for example, an early-bird offer to a guest searching six months in advance of their stay. Platform providers with significant data scale are able to automate much of the optimization experience by constantly feeding their learnings from thousands of websites back into the platform for the benefit of every client. Providing the right message at the right time improves the guest experience and has a significant impact on direct bookings (reducing OTA commission costs for the hotel). A Direct Booking Platform enables a hotelier to test and optimize their website content in order to increase conversion. With every booking, hoteliers can learn to target and convert more guests.
- Pricing and Parity Data Accuracy & Insights: Industry-leading pricing and parity data accuracy accompanied by accessible information on undercut breakdown, undercut rate vs conversion rate, parity
- Price Comparison Widget: Customizable price comparison widget, regularly UX tested on real guests to optimize design
- Message Targeting: Targeted messaging with advanced segmentation and triggering capabilities
- Automated Live Chat: An AI chatbot designed to answer specific questions about your hotel so your staff can focus their energy elsewhere.
- Drag-n-Drop Customization: A self-service online message builder allowing hoteliers to create personalized, customized messages easily (either from templates or from scratch) and to view results and edit instantly.
- Hospitality grade: Live chat features designed specifically for hoteliers including PCI compliant, secure card detail collection and image/pdf uploads.
- Analytics & Reporting: A quick view dashboard displaying graphs and metrics for conversion data, direct booking trends over time and additional performance data and insights.
- Data Driven Experimentation: A dedicated data science team focussed on running accurate product tests and drawing industry and hotel specific insights from extensive data.
Upselling software gives your hotel the ability to get more spend from the same guest, by providing valuable services, offered at the right time and at the right price to the right guest. When done properly, upselling results in more incremental revenue and a better guest experience.
- PMS Integration: Automated connection with database (PMS/Channel Manager/OTA). A 2-way integration with your property management system can dramatically increase efficiency but upsell software can be operated without it.
- Exclusion Lists: Possibility to exclude guests from receiving the offering.
- Easy to use and cross-device: Easy to use platform for guests to redeem offers on any device.
- Real time reporting: Gain insights through analytics and reporting to improve over time.
- Customizable CMS: Helps ensure that staff is able to update, customize and test offers in real time.
- Multi-language: support Your guests come from all over, make sure you are able to reach all of them.
- Email Automation: Automatic offer, redemption and confirmation emails.
- GDPR Compliance: Make sure your provider meets EU data protection privacy standards.
- Exclusion Lists: Possibility to exclude guests from receiving the offering.
Reputation and review management solutions aggregate all forms of guest feedback from across the web to help hoteliers read, respond, and analyze the feedback in an efficient manner. 95% of guests read reviews prior to making a booking decision, and after price, reviews are the most important decision variable when booking a hotel. With reputation and review management solutions, hotels can positively impact the reviews and ratings that travelers are seeing when making a booking decision.
- Review Aggregation: For many hotels, the most important review channels include their own guest satisfaction survey, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and Google. If these review sites are not included as part of the solution, the hotel will have to duplicate their review management efforts.
- Enterprise Visibility: For hoteliers who oversee multiple hotels, or sit at a corporate level, the option to view and report on behalf of all managed properties is a definite requirement for usability and effectiveness.
- Semantic analysis: Simply reading through or scanning reviews will not provide a hotelier any insight into how to improve, but with aggregated review summaries provided by semantic text analysis, hoteliers can start to see what's most positively and negatively impacting their rating.
- KPI Reporting: Hoteliers often need to provide reports on their KPIs, i.e. response rate, in order to meet the required status quo. To make them easier to track, they can be downloaded directly from the hotelier’s account or automatically scheduled via email.
- Competitor Benchmarking: When hoteliers are searching for a hotel, they are comparing the scores of a hotel's competitive set. Understanding and tracking how your hotel is performing in comparison to the competition is a key component to driving bookings.
Effective metasearch management software and digital marketing campaigns help hoteliers drive revenue, attract new customers, and achieve greater business goals. The tools and services provided by a metasearch management software enable travel brands to maximize their digital reach. This in turn, allows them to grow their business and increase their profitability.
- Robust Reporting: Metasearch campaigns can have hundreds of thousands of data points and complex bidding layers. You’ll want the ability to access reporting that is robust, customizable, and in alignment with your internal numbers and business goals.
- Bid Management: Automated bidding features allow you to apply the best bidding model to fit your company’s goals, constraints, and data. This gives you the freedom to choose exactly how to bid for your campaigns and implement custom algorithms to maximize results.
- Custom Labels: Labeling or tagging features allow campaign managers to set both automated and one-off grouping of properties based on any custom value. If you’re managing metasearch for hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of properties, labels are a necessary feature for organizing your campaigns and identifying trends.
- Property Content Management: Reporting that is informed by rich property-level data, enables you to add geographic context to broad reports and bring in extremely granular hotel attributes for a more detailed analysis.
- Intelligent Targeting: Audience targeting involves setting bids for specific groups of customers. The ability to segment your metasearch campaigns by audience is an important feature for reaching your target customers with your ads.