Marriott and Hilton Show Off Their Softer Sides

by Cheryl Rosen
Marriott and Hilton Show Off Their Softer Sides


New York – Two big hotel companies showed off their softer sides this week in Manhattan, as Marriott and Hilton both emphasized their "soft brands" at the higher end of the market, where travel agents roam.

At press events around the NYU Hospitality show, Hilton's reception highlighted the Curio Collection and the Tapestry Collection, while Marriott emptied out the Hunt and Fish Club and refit it to show off the tastes and feels of its Autograph, Tribute and Luxury Collections.

All these "collections" are soft brands, groups of independent hotels that operate under their own names and brands, like the Autograph Collection's Algonquin Hotel or the Luxury Collection's Phoenician in Scottsdale. And in an era when travelers are looking for unique and Instagramable moments, all are growing – and reaching out to a travel agent community that has the time and the wherewithal to explain their unique attributes to clients on both the leisure and the corporate sides, executives said.

Marriott's three soft brands are thriving, with over 200 hotels open and expected growth of 50% in the next three years, said Brian Povinelli, who oversees Tribute and Autograph. Two-year-old Tribute, Marriott’s newest brand (acquired in the Starwood deal) is known for its “design moments and social spaces.” It has 20 open hotels and 14 more in the pipeline, including two in New York, one of them a former candle factory to be known as The Wick. The Luxury Collection has 104 properties and 30 more on the way.   

“Travel agents looking to give their customers bespoke experiences are a big part of our plan,” Julius Robinson, vice president and global lead of Marriott's Autograph Hotels and the Tribute Portfolio, told TMR. “So many travel agents are loyal to us, and we are huge advocates of the channel. Using these brands is a great way for travel agents to leverage and deliver a value proposition to our mutual customers.” 

The Autograph Collection is the “fastest growing full service brand ever in the industry,” he said, jumping from 0 to 120 in seven years thanks to a focus on “the independent traveler, the 40% of guests who don’t want to stay in a Marriott.”

Hilton also sees agents as key for soft brands 
At the Hilton reception, Mark Nogal, global head of the Curio and Tapestry Collections, told TMR the three-year-old Curio brand has 36 open properties, a number that will grow to 50 or more by the end of the year. Curio Collection by Hilton,Curio Collection by Hilton, which opened its first property outside Sienna, Italy, debuted a golf and spa resort. In North America properties range from 32 beds in Madison CT to 1,000 at The Diplomat in Hollywood, FL, to Puerto Rico's iconic El San Juan, which reopened in February (and incidentally represents a great value right now, Nogal noted).

Tapestry, meanwhile, just opened its first property, Hotel Skyler, in Syracuse, NY, last week in a former synagogue built in the early 1900s.

"What started as kind of a leisure trend with people seeking out independent experiences has grown and is encompassing business travelers as well," Nogal said. "I think the travel agency community, on both the leisure and the corporate sides, will be able to help us, because each hotel is unique and has its own story.” 

Travel agents understand the different nuances and can match each brand and experience to the customer’s needs, he noted. And “in today’s world, where travel agents are creating bespoke experiences, they appreciate the fact that when there is no other property quite like yours, the customers will pay what they think the experience is worth – and so there is no rate cap.

“Based on our experience customers are looking for experiences, and the portfolio is strong. People want experiences over things, and that bodes well for all of us.”

  0
  0
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Best Coastal Florida Cities

1. St. Pete Beach

2. Miami

3. St. Augustine

4. Sarasota/Siesta Key

5. Key West

Source: Thrillist

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=790331bd-ff88-e811-853f-782bcb667b27

Artificial Intelligence is the Future the Jetsons Told Us About

Customer loyalty is the ultimate reward for travel agents who tap into artificial intelligence. While still early in its application to travel, many companies are quickly realizing the need to implement AI to improve their travel customer service and trip planning.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
New Zealand Announces New Tourist Tax
New Zealand Announces New Tourist Tax

The tax will be implemented starting in mid-2019.

New York City Council Rules Airbnb Must Disclose Host Information
New York City Council Rules Airbnb Must Disclose Host Information

The ongoing battle between the home-sharing service and the city took another turn. 

EU Says Airbnb Not in Compliance with Consumer Regulations
EU Says Airbnb Not in Compliance with Consumer Regulations

Airbnb has until the end of August to propose changes to make its terms and conditions fairer and easier to understand.

Once Again, Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende Tops Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best List
Once Again, Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende Tops Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best List

Several perennial favorites made the list, but Mexico notably took three of the top 15 spots for the world's best cities.

Perillo Tours to Launch 360 Video Travel Agent Campaign
Perillo Tours to Launch 360 Video Travel Agent Campaign

Virtual reality is gearing up to create vast changes in our culture and entertainment, including the way travel agents sell and the way consumers research travel.

Intrepid Travel to Launch New Backpacking Alternative Tour Brand
Intrepid Travel to Launch New Backpacking Alternative Tour Brand

Tour operator’s sister company, Geckos Adventures, has been absorbed in a strategic move to offer 'stress-free' and a sustainable, affordable alternative to backpacking.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Norwegian Cruise Line