The number of hotel brands in circulation continues to increase with each year as hospitality companies continue to carve their way into more and more specific niches. This is good for guests and great for the industry as traveler needs can be better met with the appropriate brand.
But while consolidation continues to progress in the open through portfolio acquisitions, it is also taking place behind closed doors on the operational side.
Hilton Worldwide is taking stock of its three all-suites hotel brands and folding them into a single operational umbrella known as the All Suites category. Beginning in 2016, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites will all receive support from Hilton areas where all three share operational elements. This includes development, sales and operations, as well as a plan to roll out all three brands on the same revenue management system.
According to Bill Duncan, global head of brand management for Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton, this will not be a rebranding of the three brands. "It's a revitalizing of how we support the hotels from a brand standpoint," Duncan said. "Each will retain its brand and have its own product offering, as well as different product attributes and levels of service. The new umbrella is about how we support them on the back end from the Hilton engine."
Hilton also plans to provide increased owner support, as there are an estimated 32 owners with five or more of Hilton's all-suite properties in their portfolios. Duncan was quick to state that the new program will require no investment from owners and franchisees, though he is not yet clear on how much Hilton will be paying for the initiative.
One thing that is clear is the strength of the all-suite category: Hilton's three all-suites brands constitute 15 percent of the company's current worldwide rooms inventory and nearly 20 percent of its incoming pipeline. This growth was partly what drew Hilton to consider this new strategy.
"We started thinking, 'there is a significant amount of synergy in this category,'" Duncan said. "With them all united in rolling out revenue management systems, the important thing for owners and operators is that it will allow us to strengthen support in helping them."
Duncan referred to the all-suites category as "flexible and scalable," and hinted that other brands could join in the operational umbrella down the road, including possible new brands.
One other major change as a result of the creation of the All Suites category is a shift in management. Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, Adrian Kurre will be shifting from global head of Hilton Garden Inn to global head of the Homewood and Home2 Suites brands. Duncan, meanwhile, will become global head of All Suites brands as well as brand manager of Embassy Suites.
"Kurre knows extended stay, we are opening a significant number of [All Suites] hotels next year, and because of the growth he's worked with in Hilton Garden Inn he has strong experience in opening hotels ata a high level."