Brand (dis)loyalty

The New York Times “Square Feet” feature appears every Sunday on the last page of its Business section and on most occasions is devoted to the hotel industry. Yesterday’s focussed on the business traveler and how major national chains have responded with new brands targeting them. A business traveler mentioned in the article notes how when” clients pay for his accommodations, they tend to book him at the higher-end hotels, which are nice, though he barely takes advantage of all the luxury amenities they offer. He is more cost-conscious when traveling on his own dime, yet unwilling to stay in a mere roadside motel”. Such a traveler is apparently the “prototype of a guest being courted by an increasingly competitive, moderately priced sector of the hotel industry: the business traveler 25 to 45 years old”. The majors have responded with a slew of new names from Hyatt Place to Indigo by IHG. And yet, as the article notes that the one thing that this guest is not – is brand-loyal! Customers staying across a range of brands despite affinity programs and frequent stay rewards is not a new phenomenon. Nevertheless, despite the notion of brand loyalty being continually threatened, the signalling of quality associated with brands is here to stay as few guests tend to stray from a narrow spectrum of brands.

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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.