The return of the brand

The 10th National Business Travel Monitor (a nationally projectable survey of business travel trends) has an interesting finding …business travelers display a clear preference for full-service lodging in “branded” properties (e.g., part of some recognizable national chain).” Another report in Hotel & Motel Management discusses the recent influx of branding experts in the hospitality industry. Is the brand poised to take its rightful place in a REVPAR and ADR driven industry where the product is a “perishable commodity” and the “best available discounted rate” usually prevails over “loyalty points”?

The brands never really left the battlegrounds. A brand is a symbol of hope and stability when all things begin to look and sound alike. As hotels compete for the same customer, the dividing lines begin to blur. Example – boutiques that combine business-traveler friendly amenities with modern chic look and feel a lot less unlike their annoyingly stylish but impractical predecessors. As economy hotels add fancier amenities to their list, they are perceived less and less as “economy” options. A brand is a re-assuring experience in such a marketplace. In recent times, the brand (always an expensive asset to build and maintain) has struggled to maintain its relevance as online discounts, ipod-induced technology-frenzy and complimentary breakfasts trumped competition. As Anthony Berger, c.o.o. of Wyndham Hotel Group, who also worked at Kraft, notes, “Brand building has not always been a focus of the hotel industry, which shows in the fact that of the top 50 or 100 brands in the world, none are lodging companies.” If a brand is an experience, the hotel industry has lagged ..remarkably behind. With the accelerated growth of online advertising and the expected boom in immersive rich-media campaigns, the new focus on branding couldn’t have come a day sooner.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.