5 questions with Hampton by Hilton’s Shruti Gandhi Buckley

Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Glenarden/Washington D.C. (Photo credit: Hilton)

Hampton by Hilton continues to be a development driver across the United States, and even across the globe. The brand has more than 2,380 hotels open in 22 countries and territories with an additional 620 properties in the pipeline.

Global head of the brand, Shruti Gandhi Buckley, recently chatted with Hotel Management for its “5 Questions With” series to discuss why Hampton continues to be a leader in its category, what owners can except from its new prototype unveiled in May, and the brand's growth strategy moving forward.

1. Hampton by Hilton continues to remain a leader in terms of development in the U.S. What is the brand’s growth strategy and why it has been so strong?

Hampton by Hilton’s success is built on three core pillars: our long-standing commitment to the Hampton Guarantee and delivering a great service experience, being a category leader through product and amenity innovation, and Hilton’s ongoing investment in the brand.

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Hampton has led the upper-midscale category for nearly 35 years because we’re not afraid to try something new and adapt to the changing needs of travelers and anticipating their future needs. Hampton is a lighthouse brand with a history of innovation, seen in the evolving lobby design with multifunctional spaces and the new prototype. We are a pioneer in the segment, as the first to offer free hot breakfast with healthy options and the 100% Hampton Guarantee. Our unparalleled culture of providing authentic, warm, caring and thoughtful service is a key differentiator that helps drive a consistent experience throughout our large portfolio of hotels. These factors have made Hampton the category killer, outperforming the upper-midscale tier in (revenue per available room) by 20 percent, commanding very strong market share performance and driving strong value for owners.

Hampton’s success and growth is market agnostic, from urban, downtown and beach locations to suburban business districts and tertiary destinations. Our vast distribution in the U.S., and growing international footprint, demonstrates the brand’s success across all markets. Our flexible prototype allows us to seamlessly adapt to varying market requirements. Our hotels are often in locations with no other focused-service hotels, or we are the only Hilton brand in the area.

Shruti Gandhi Buckley. Photo credit: Hilton

2. What does the brand bring to owners in terms of return on investment? That is, why do owners like the brand?

Hampton by Hilton has a synergistic relationship with owners and we regularly seek their input and feedback on key brand initiatives. We strike a healthy balance between a strong ROI for owners and guest experience improvements to consistently deliver one of the strongest performing and most profitable brands in the industry. This is why Hampton continues to be one of the most preferred brands for owners to develop and for guests to book.

This year, we introduced a new prototype and design package that leverages the latest architectural trends and construction materials. Our owners and franchisees were heavily involved, contributing direct feedback throughout the process. After we presented a “sneak peek” of the new prototype at the 2017 owners conference, several owners under construction or with completed plans chose to invest in revisions to incorporate the new features.

Related Story: Hampton by Hilton opens five new properties, shows off new prototype

Hampton also delivers strong performance and returns for our owners. All our key performance metrics are up compared to last year, including RevPAR, which is experiencing a 3.4-percent increase. This is impressive when you consider the brand is already performing at the very top of the chain scale.

3. A current big challenge is rising construction costs. Does the brand do anything to mitigate those concerns?

The new prototype was designed to be more efficient to build and operate, positioning Hampton by Hilton for long-term success. We were able to improve the space efficiency and offer local construction material options for owners to capture cost savings while adding customization.

We also recently introduced a functionally improved guestroom [furniture, fixtures and equipment] package and a fresh and modern décor package for the public spaces. The packages include the timeless and uplifting décor that is a signature of Hampton’s new prototype, and a color palette of warm tones infused with pops of color. The packages come with preapproved design elements and favorable negotiated pricing, providing an easy-to-implement solution for our owners.

 

Check out more from HM’s “5 Questions With” Series:

 

 

4. What is one of the biggest opportunities for the brand? How about a challenge?

Solidifying Hampton’s leadership position is our most important opportunity as we look toward the future. Fortunately, we have several strategies and initiatives in place to continue to drive performance and loyalty by keeping our service culture strong and our hotels and amenities relevant and innovative to meet the evolving needs of guests. 

The ways guests live, work and relax while traveling are constantly changing, and Hampton adapts in real time. This means continuously developing and improving our prototype, design and offerings to maintain our appeal to core customers, as well as attract new guests.

5. How do you see the brand growing over the next five years? What are some major goals for Hampton?

Global expansion is a key focus area for Hampton by Hilton. We currently have the largest pipeline in brand history, driven by concerted growth efforts in China, Europe, key Central and South American markets and the U.S.

In China, Hampton by Hilton has a partnership with Plateno Hotels Group to develop and grow the brand.  We currently have more than 40 hotels opened and a very strong pipeline of over 200 signed hotels, making Hampton the fastest growing international hospitality brand in the country. We are also continuing to expand in other parts of Asia, most recently opening our first hotel in Kazakhstan, Hampton by Hilton Astana Triumphal Arch, in August. In addition, Hampton will make its debut in the Middle East this September, opening our largest hotel to date, in Dubai.

At the end of the second quarter, Hampton’s international presence demonstrated the brand’s continued global expansion. In Latin America, the brand has 46 hotels with 19 in the pipeline; Europe, the Middle East and Africa have 74 open properties with 79 in the pipeline; and the Asia-Pacific region features 40 open hotels, with another 187 in development.

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