Hilton right on time with Tempo brand launch

After Hilton President/CEO Chris Nassetta told analysts in July that one of two new brands would be forthcoming in six months, the megachain is right on time with today's launch of the aptly named Tempo by Hilton, a new-construction franchise model that gives the global company its 18th brand.

Positioned for the upscale segment, the brand is out to capture the demographic/psychographic sought by numerous hotel companies: modern travelers bent on enjoying themselves whether working or relaxing, all within the confines of a hotel experience that is at once comfortable and stimulating.

“It was designed from the ground up as an approachable yet elevated lifestyle brand to fit seamlessly into the rhythm of our guests’ lives and we feel this name perfectly captures that guiding principle,” Phil Cordell, global head of new brand development, told Hotel Management.

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A year in the works, Tempo by Hilton emerged from under wraps with 30 committed projects and more than 30 working deals in locations from New York City to Maui, Hawaii, including properties in Dallas; Del Mar, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; and Boston, according to Cordell. He said the new-build product (with leeway for adaptive reuse, but basically shying from conversions, which would be on a case-by-case basis) “provides hotel owners and developers with a highly scalable and design-driven lifestyle brand, powered by an efficient operating model that far exceeds what is currently found throughout competing hospitality concepts. The brand is easy to build, yet flexible, and designed to offer a compelling value proposition, with owner ROI in mind from start to finish.”

Among those jumping on board to bring the brand out of the ground are Texas-based American Liberty Hospitality and Ohio-based Rockbridge.

Nassetta said the timing was right for another brand. “We introduce new brands only after careful consideration of our guests’ and owners’ needs and wants, and each brand is intentionally designed to fill whitespace in the market. Tempo by Hilton joins our Hilton family to serve an emerging and sophisticated customer set that’s goal-oriented, focused on wellness and wants their hotel experience to enable them to be their best selves. Ultimately, we’re focused on serving every guest, for any travel need they may have, anywhere in the world and Tempo by Hilton will help us continue to deliver on that goal,” he said.

Hilton conducted extensive market research and consulted with more than 10,000 consumers as well as owners, developers and stakeholders from more than 10 Hilton departments to draft the Tempo premise, said Cordell, keeping the communication lines open during the entire concept-development process and incorporating “feedback and ideas” into the brand’s evolution.

In continuing to assess what that would look like, Cordell said, “We’ve also tapped partners from other diverse industries, including Arianna Huffington’s behavior change platform, Thrive Global; the award-winning restaurateur Elizabeth Blau of Blau + Associates; award-winning design firms; and others to address specific areas, including wellness and [food and beverage]. For example, in partnership with Thrive Global, we have developed a curated assortment of morning and bedtime rituals that will help guests to power up for their day and/or power down for more-effective rest. These include a range of items, from guided stretching and breathing exercises to meditative visual and audio content. We also will be collaborating with Blau + Associates to form a ‘Chef Collective,’ an advisory board of young, up-and-coming chefs who will help curate culinary options, such as seasonal menus.”

One beverage option will be the Fuel Bar in Tempo’s lobby that will offer complementary coffee and tea and “benefit-driven mix-ins to help sustain energy and boost focus.”

FDD IN PLACE

With the franchise disclosure document created and released, Hilton expects the first Tempo property to open in 2021 and is looking to target mainly urban and surban (areas just outside a major city that still offer a range of urban amenities) markets. “We also will look to mixed-use developments—[Rockbridge will put one Tempo property into a MUD in Nashville, Tenn.]— particularly at areas where the property will have restaurants, retail, offices and/or entertainment nearby,” said Cordell. He noted the new brand also could be a complementary product in a multi-hotel project “where it makes sense. Hilton has long championed the efficiencies of multi-brand properties, and Tempo by Hilton will pursue those opportunities when they are a good fit for a particular destination.”

Currently, there’s neither a set cost per key nor a minimum/maximum on room counts. The numbers will be market dependent, although the company anticipates 150 keys on average and is positioning Tempo to compete at roughly a 15 percent higher average daily rate than a Hilton Garden Inn in the same market. Additionally, Cordell said it’s expected the brand would draw a 60-40 mix of business and leisure guests, respectively, with business travelers largely coming from consulting, financial, information technology and sales organizations.

While designated as part of Hilton’s group of upscale brands—Hilton Garden Inn, DoubleTree by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton and Homewood Suites by Hilton—Cordell sees Tempo creating its own niche as it fills “a gap between select service and full service as an elevated yet approachable lifestyle brand.”

In terms of critical mass, Cordell said, “We see potential to reach more than 500 Tempo by Hilton properties in the U.S. alone,” with opportunities for growth internationally in Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America.

ADDING TO THE ‘FAMILY’

The emergence of another Hilton brand comes as no particular surprise except, perhaps, for the relative rapidity of its deployment. Nassetta told analysts on a Q2 earnings call last summer the company planned to launch two more brands within as many years, the first coming to fruition within six months, which puts the Tempo launch right on target.

 Within the past 17 months, Hilton has launched—some would say relaunched—luxury-level LXR Hotels & Resorts, a 15-year-old brand originally conceived by Blackstone Group to reposition a portfolio of hotels acquired during a buyout of Wyndham International in 2005.

In October 2018, Hilton debuted Motto, which straddles the microhotel and hostel models. The first property broke ground this past November in Atlanta, with six additional Mottos, including one in Peru, in the pipeline.

Guestroom design/renderings: NELSON Worldwide

Public space design/renderings: The Gettys Group

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