HM on location: Choice refocuses on legacy brands

VP/brand management Anne Smith, President/CEO Pat Pacious and Director/Brand Marketing Wendy Beach, reveal the new logo for Quality Inn. Photo credit: Jena Tesse Fox (Quality Inn Logo Launch)

LAS VEGAS — After acquiring Woodspring Suites and launching its new midscale, select-service Clarion Pointe brand in 2018, Choice Hotels President/CEO Patrick (Pat) Pacious expects to spend the rest of 2019 focusing on the company’s 12 brands rather than looking to add to the chain's portfolio.

At the company’s 65th annual convention here, Pacious said all four of the company’s segments—upscale, midscale, economy and extended stay—are seeing solid growth and the company is investing in its existing brands to drive market share.

For example, this investment could be helping Cambria owners enter the upscale space,  said the CEO, or could be promoting the company’s Quality Inn brand—the flag that launched the company. “I's an 80-year-old brand, but it had more openings than the next three midscale brands combined in the industry [last year],” said Pacious, noting Quality has 94 percent brand awareness. “It has 160,000 rooms around the world and grew at 132 hotels last year in the U.S. So we don't just look at the world as everything has to be some new brand extension or brand launch. We also want to make sure we're reinvesting in the brands," he said.

Related: HM on location: Choice set to build on record-breaking year

Choice will still consider brand growth. “If you look at where our portfolio is today, there's some white space,” said Pacious. “We don't have an upscale, extended-stay brand yet. We don't participate yet in the full-service side of the house in upscale. So those are opportunities for us. But in the medium to long term for right now, we're focused on the 12 brands that we do have.”

New Looks, New Logos

Last year, Choice updated the logo of its Comfort brand to reflect a new identity. At this year's conference, the company announced new logos for Quality Inn, Clarion and MainStay Suites. 

Photo credit: Choice Hotels International

Taking a page from the logo of its new Clarion Pointe brand, the updated Clarion logo uses a cleaner, simpler font, with a color scheme of navy and teal. Quality Inn keeps its gold “Q” icon, but modernizes it into a green that is meant to signal value. MainStay’s updated blue logo—an ambigram of its M.S. initials—is meant to evoke calm and comfort, especially for extended-stay guests.

Hotel owners will have several years to update all of their signage and branding.

International Growth

Another milestone for Choice in 2018 was the deal with with Spanish hotel operator and franchiser Sercotel Hotels to expand Choice’s brands into Spain and other markets. “So we've added significant number of hotels with our alliance there in a country where we didn't have a footprint before,” Pacious said, noting Spain is second only to France in terms of international inbound tourism. “So being in that market made a lot of sense for us.”

The company’s other partnerships, including Nordic Choice for Nordic countries and Atlantica in Brazil, are helping drive growth in top markets and build brand awareness, he added. “All across the world, we've got growth going on.”  

The company’s target demographic in Europe is decidedly different from the United States, however. “In Europe, it’s kind of a flip,” Pacious said, explaining the company’s American hotels are generally focused on leisure travelers. “But in Europe it's the other way around. It's more of that business traveler than it is the leisure traveler.” As such, the company is focused on upper-midscale and upscale growth in those countries, said the CEO.