Brand overload?

The digital media site Mashable recently ran a piece entitled " Hotel brands multiply with questionable benefit to travelers".  The website pointed out that the "10 largest hotel chains now offer a combined 113 brands at various price points" of which 31 did not exist a decade ago. The somewhat bewildering array of brand names that ranges from the orthographically challenged Vib and Venu and the somewhat cockily named Moxy but it is as yet unclear, given their recent provenance, that they necessarily will lead to heightened brand loyalty. 

The recently announced Freddie awards where American Airlines and Marriott came out on top seem to reaffirm the dominance of the big brands even if the awards aren't necessarily a complete indicator of consumers preferring brands over independents as the latter don't really enter the fray.

A reaction to potential brand overload is the move towards co-opting independents into a "collection", an attempt that suggests curation and sophistication that brands hope will distance these hostelries from their branded brethren. Curio by Hilton and Tribute Portfolio by Starwood are a couple of examples. The latter company, like Choice Hotels, is seeking to eject "tired" brands like Sheraton and Comfort Inn from their stable.

However are big brands in their apparent moves to genuflect to Gen X and their successors Gen Y or Millenials who are reputed to be brand averse being hasty?  Recent surveys show that post-Millenials also known as Generation Z, a crop of workers born after 1994, are in fact brand loyal and trust big brands more so than others in the demographic continuum. That at least was the conclusion of a JD Powers report commissioned to look at this demographic in the banking sector. The US marketing research giant found that while Gen Z is satisfied with the website and mobile features of big banks they are also satisfied with the in-person experience at big banks principally because of the seamless experience across channels. 

Interestingly, these new consumers bring a range of characteristics that sets them apart even from the preceding generation (Gen Y) starting with communications where Facebook, Snapchat or texting takes primacy over email with the latter being used principally for formal contracts;  voice-mail is beyond ante-diluvian for them. Perhaps a good place to start to ensure the seamless experience these guests are looking for is to ensure that booking engines for hotels and airlines cater to these preferences. 



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.