Brand overdose?

It is entirely understandable if some hotel guests found themselves reeling from the dizzying array of hotel brands (Andaz, Solis, Scandic, NYLO the Waldorf collection etc) unveiled in the last twelve months. But just when it seemed the brand geyser had dried up a Dutch company rolled out yet another offering named Citizen M where the “M” stands for mobile (citizens). The hotels are meant to appeal to travelers on the go with a promise of “affordable luxury”. The brand’s pitch states “These modern individuals are explorers, culture-seekers, professionals and shoppers. They travel a lot – both long and short haul. They are independent, share a respect for the places they visit and are young at heart”. The company’s website goes on to state that the first Citizen M hotel is slated to open at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam with 230 rooms at the beginning of 2008 and rates will start at about 69 euros a night.

However, it is hard to set Citizen M apart from the many offerings on either side of the Atlantic after a closer read of their “mission statement”. The notion of “affordable luxury” is no more tenable than an earlier pitch by a different (American) hotel company of “luxury budget” or “cheap chic” hotels. Nevertheless, if the notion is to offer more value for money than the brand’s premise is not entirely off-base as, presumably the Gen Y traveler they are targeting is an upwardly mobile customer who, with time, likely will move up the value chain and, thereby, form the basis for charging higher rates in a more upmarket product. In the end, a strong economy is what underpins the launch of many new brands. It would be interesting to see how many survive an economic downturn whenever it does arrive.

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.