• Further flags unfurled

Berlin’s hospitality conference season saw the launch of two new brands from Accor and news that Steigenberger brand was being overhauled.
The honing of branded portfolios marked the ongoing efforts by the global operators to create a complete collection of flags united by their loyalty programmes.
At Accor, Tribe has been launched to target the mid-market, with one site already open in Australia and its first European site due to open in Glasgow in the middle of this year. The company had 10 hotels in the pipeline to open by 2022 in Europe and Asia Pacific, totalling more than 1,700 rooms, with a further 50 under negotiations.
The company said that the brand was created in response to demand for a high-quality hotel experience at an affordable price. It added that Tribe aimed to “surprise travellers with an original, exciting and carefully curated offer that focuses on style rather than price. Tribe is reshaping the traditional hotel experience, enabling guests to live, work and play in contemporary interiors”.
Gaurav Bhushan, CDO, Accor, said: “The pipeline of over 50 hotels currently being negotiated for the coming years leads us to believe that the Tribe brand will achieve significant growth all over the world including in gateway locations such as Paris, London, Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok… It will be making its debut in 150 international destinations by 2030.”
At the luxury end of the market, Accor and SBE launched a new collection brand; The House of Originals.
Sam Nazarian, founder & CEO of SBE, said: “At SBE we are always looking to create memorable experiences. The House of Originals will include our existing incredible destinations, the Sanderson, St Martins Lane, Shore Club and 10 Karaköy and create a community and network of unique global properties.”
Bhushan said: “The lifestyle market continues to grow rapidly and has one of fastest growth rates in the industry. Accor has had very strong acceleration in the lifestyle sector and now offers the widest portfolio, with 10 brands to be developed internationally from economy to luxury. The House of Originals is the perfect combination of SBE’s know-how in entertainment and F&B, and will benefit from Accor’s global platform, particularly in terms of distribution, loyalty and network development. With already five new hotels in the pipeline and an exciting pipeline underway in key gateway cities such as Dubai, London and Paris, this brand brings a new lifestyle flavour into the Accor portfolio.”
At ITB, Deutsche Hospitality announced that it was giving its luxury brand Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts a complete relaunch. Thomas Willms, CEO, Steigenberger Hotels & Deutsche Hospitality, said: “At Steigenberger we can look back on a unique success story of almost 90 years. Now is the time to further develop Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts with innovation, new content and a trend-setting design, while reloading our famous values – Passion, Perfection, Tradition, Visionary and Caring – and making them even more popular on an international level.”
The first hotel to be overhauled will be the Steigenberger Hotel Hamburg, which will see a new rooftop bar added, and all rooms and the lobby completely redesigned. The next upgrades were scheduled for Vienna, Amsterdam, Bonn-Petersberg, Brussels, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Kiel, Berlin, Cologne and Dresden.
Willms said: “We want to evolve with the existing hotels and this year, together with our partners, invest over EUR120m in the hotels in Frankfurt, Hamburg, at Petersberg, Baden-Baden, Brussels, Vienna, Dresden and many other cities. At the same time, we will continue to grow internationally and will be represented at locations like Bangkok and Sønderborg, Denmark as well as with another hotel in Cairo.”
Away from the structural redesign, the brand will also add ‘welcome managers’ in the hotels, pop-up museums and in-house fashion events, as well as a new logo. The company also added a number of strategic partners, such as the Steigenberger Limousine Service “powered by Sixt”, offering a personal chauffeur exclusively for Steigenberger guests.

HA Perspective [by Katherine Doggrell]: Back in the day, when InterContinental Hotels Group was relaunching the Holiday Inn brand family, journalists were bussed out to massive hangars to admire room mockups, sniff the scent of Holiday Inn and, in the case of this hack, accidentally wander into the owners’ presentation, where investors were swooning at the thickness of the brand book.
Now, when a brand is being launched into the market, you’re lucky to get a free pen to mark the moment. And moment it is, because another one will be along shortly.
Does this make them any less valuable? No, although, as Accor noted at its recent results presentation, it was investing in seven ‘core’ brands, confirming a hierarchy, from which the other brands will radiate.
What unites these brands in the eye of the consumer is not IHG, or Accor, but the loyalty programme and the next great branding push will not be to ensure that the guest knows what Tribe is, but to ensure that they know what All is.

Additional comment [by Andrew Sangster]: With the number of hotel “brands” in Europe already topping 1,000 (this relies on the assumption that a chain of four or more hotels is indeed a brand) the prospect of yet more being offered is probably not going to turn the tide of criticism already being flung at hotel brand companies.
But more brands are, counter intuitively, what consumers want and therefore should be what hotel owners want. What consumers want is something unique that at the same time comes in a reliable package.
People want a Volkswagen but they want one that is different to their neighbours. Maybe it’s the leather seats, the auto parking feature or the soft top – there has to be something to make what is a humdrum people’s car standout.
Maybe they want a bit of Vorsprung Durch Technik and will pay several thousand euros more for the same underlying vehicle with an Audi badge. Or maybe they want to feel they’re getting value for money and pay a bit less for a less flashily kitted out vehicle with a Skoda badge.
In all cases, though, they want to know that the vehicle in question is backed by the world’s biggest car maker.
It is oxymoronic but the hotel industry is going to get lots more of this unique consistency and individual conformity. Put on your cognitive dissonance headgear now.

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