Hilton’s new Tempo

Tempo's public space

Hilton has taken its brand stable up to 18 with the launch of Tempo by Hilton, which it described as an “approachable lifestyle brand curated to serve a growing segment of modern achievers”.

The group said that it hoped to drive loyalty with consumers not using its current upscale products, just over a year since the launch of affordable brand Motto.

Hilton said that there were already 30 Tempo hotels under development in US cities, including New York, Maui, Boston, Los Angeles, Lexington, Nashville, San Diego, Charlotte, Washington DC, Houston and Atlanta, with 30 more pending deals.

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The new-build flag was expected to expand through franchises and management contracts, with the first property due to open in 2021. The company told us that it saw “great opportunity” to expand the brand into international markets such as Canada and Mexico in the coming years, but that there were currently no plans to bring it to Europe/EMEA.

Phil Cordell, SVP & global head of new brand development, Hilton, said: “Tempo by Hilton introduces a new concept by combining all the benefits and efficiencies owners expect from a limited service model with an uplifting dose of inspiration.

“Utilising a data-driven blueprint, we identified lifestyle offerings inside the guest rooms and throughout the property that push the entire sector to new heights. The end result is a compelling, yet approachable brand that enables owners to expand their portfolios in sought-after locations across the country as well as capture a new demographic of travellers.”

The company said that it had surveyed more than 10,000 customers during Tempo’s development. Features included shared spaces, a ‘get ready zone’ in the rooms and an oversized bath suite, which was described as “spacious, bright and invigorating to help guests recharge and renew”.

Jon Witter, chief customer officer, Hilton, said: “Through our research, we found that while our current upscale offerings have been incredibly successful at earning loyalty among specific guest segments, there was a rising demographic of ambitious and highly discerning travellers that weren’t engaging with the category.

“With Tempo by Hilton, we are able to reach these influential consumers through a new, elevated yet approachable class of hotels designed to surpass expectations of both customers and owners in truly meaningful ways.”

The group said that Tempo would align with Hilton’s Travel with Purpose 2030 Goals; to double its investment in social impact and cut its environmental footprint in half. Examples of specific initiatives included food waste programmes, responsible seafood sourcing, hydration stations throughout the property to replace single-use plastic bottles and full-size bath amenity dispensers to reduce disposable plastics.

The launch is the second in recent years for Hilton into the lifestyle segment, following Motto at the end of 2018. In that case, the company said that it had been inspired by the lifestyle hostel model, where research found that travellers who stayed in hostels did not like rooming with strangers and often booked just with friends or family. The group denied being inspired by the rise of Airbnb.

Chris Nassetta, president & CEO, told analysts at the time: “We're always talking to customers and doing focus groups as we design these brands and figure out how to make them tick the right way, so that they'll appeal to customers but we are also working very closely with owners to make sure that we're engineering the cost to build and the cost to operate in a way that they'll deliver returns that work for owners. Otherwise, we'll have a great thing for a customer, but we will have no hotels for the customer to stay in.”

Insight: Yes, it’s that most wonderful time of the year, the first of the new brands. Truly, we now know that 2020 is upon us and in that most up-and-coming of sectors, lifestyle-which-won’t-break-the-bank, or in this case, $150 to $250.

James Bland, director, BVA BDRC, told us: “Tempo by Hilton looks like a very nice arrangement of some of the latest trends in the sector by a known and trusted operator.  I’m not sure there is anything in there that is a completely new concept or proposition (like the interconnecting, repurpose-able rooms at Motto, for example), but there are some smart new approaches within a nicely curated bundle.

 “If you asked me to continue the musical analogy (and why wouldn’t you), it looks to me like a contemporary compilation album (Millennial translation: playlist) where every track is a collaboration between the song’s performer and my all-time favourite artist.  It’s got all the latest beats and although you can get the individual songs elsewhere, if you want to listen to them all at the same time, this is the one to buy (millennial translation: stream).  If you’re not sure about the modern artists, your favourite singer provides reassurance and may just tempt you to give it a listen.”

Hilton has noted an important factor in loyalty, something which many talk about but few try to enact - that loyalty has a lifetime. This is something which one imagines is a frequent topic of conversation with owners as the large branded groups try and justify the spend on loyalty programmes. The cost of acquiring the consumer cannot be thought of as just for one night, but spread over the lifetime of the customer.

But there won’t be a lifetime if the customer can’t afford to stay in the spiffy hotels which typically command loyalty, so we’re back to customers signing up to loyalty discounts for one cheap stay.

This is a trick which publishers have been playing for a while, with cheap subscriptions to their expensive products for students, safe in the knowledge that when students become high-flying executives, they - or their employers - will have the means to pay the full fee. Of course how long they consider you a student is a matter for them and this hack is eager not to name names and those pHds can take an awfully long time.

So today’s Tempo guest is tomorrow’s Waldorf Astoria? That’s certainly the plan. And, with Hilton currently on a big luxury push, it will be hoping that the feeder strategy works.

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