Hyatt's Unbound Collection promises to be a differentiator

Driskill Hotel Austin

Hyatt Hotels Corp. revealed plans to launch The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, a new soft brand from the company that will consist of upper-upscale and luxury hotels. 

The first hotels claimed by the collection include the Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas; the Hôtel du Louvre in Paris; and the Carmelo Resort & Spa in Carmelo, Uruguay. Plans are also in motion to include the Coco Palms Resort in Kauai, Hawaii, which has been closed since Hurricane Iniki struck the island in 1992. Jamie Rothfeld, manager of corporate communications at Hyatt Hotels, told Pacific Business News that the hotel will be completely restored in time for a planned 2018 opening.

"The reason we’re launching it is the gross potential is really big," Rothfeld said. "I can envision specific boutique properties in Hawaii that are [currently] independent but might want to become part of Hyatt later. This collection is not only just for existing hotels; it could be new builds."

Hyatt's decision to launch its own soft brand of independent hotels is unsurprising given the industry's current fascination with bespoke experiences, something a soft brand like Unbound can tap into using a wide range of properties.

Chekitan Dev, professor of marketing and branding at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and author of "Hospitality Branding," told USA Today that soft brand collections such as Unbound are also founded as part of the strategy to attack the growth of Airbnb, but the creation of new brands in an industry already inundated with brands may be counter intuitive to grabbing guest interest.

"The bad news: lots of confusion around what a brand stands for and how it is different from its competitors," Dev said. "The good news: lots of options of brand affiliation for hotel owners, and lots of choices and deals for customers seeking a variety of brand experiences."

Maryam Banikarim, chief marketing office for Hyatt Hotels, told USA Today that Unbound will differentiate itself from other independent collections by offering more experiential travel, and may include alternatives to hotels such as river cruises.

Unbound is Hyatt's 13th brand.