In rebrand, Taj Hotels scales back, streamlines brand architecture

Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai

Marriott may have 30 brands under one corporate umbrella, but Indian Hotels Company Limited is opting for a different tactic. As rumored late last year, the company will be grouping all of its hotels under a single branded identity that will be called Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris. IHCL expects transition of all hotels under the new architecture to be completed by December 2017.

By that time, the Vivanta and Gateway brands will be discontinued, but IHCL will continue to use the Ginger name for its budget hotels, company officials said.

“The new brand identity honors the renowned legacy of the Taj in a structure that will create greater brand resonance with our guests and also allow for considerable value creation for all our stakeholders," Rakesh Sarna, CEO and MD of Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris, said in a statement. 

The new brand architecture was originally scheduled for rollout back in November, but the announcement was postponed at the last moment after the exit of Cyrus Mistry as group chairman. The new chairman of the Tata Group, N Chandrasekaran, is scheduled to take over from Ratan Tata, the interim chairman, on February 21. 

But as noted previously, while the rebranding efforts would boost the Taj name, they would also present some challenges to the company. All of the smaller hotels would have to be upgraded and brand standards would have to become uniform across all properties, which would not likely be inexpensive. On the other hand, while bringing all of the hotels under one brand could require “a significant investment” by the company, it also help IHCL charge a higher premium on the pricing across all the hotels.

Changing Times

This development follows a big year for Taj, which took steps to go asset-light throughout 2016. In July, Taj sold off shares of Belmond for approximately $11.96 million and sold the Taj Boston hotel for $125 million. The property—one of three the group owned in the U.S.—was acquired 10 years ago for $166 million. 

The rebranding announcement comes a month before Taj is expected to launch its new Warmer Welcomes loyalty program in connection with Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts. The program, announced in November, integrates Taj InnerCircle and Shangri-La’s Golden Circle guest loyalty programs and will provide members reciprocal and seamless benefits.

Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris has 101 hotels in 64 locations, including India, North America, United Kingdom, Africa, Middle East, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan and Nepal.