June 11, 2006
Brand Names You Like to Live Inside
I think that extended stay hotels and hotels for business travelers have been the victims of some poor product naming — probably because people have such a negative image of them, even within their own industry. Even their supporters seem to use words like “comfortable” and “clean” rather than “awesome.”
The names that seem to dominate the industry are synonymous with office parks and strip malls. Hilton’s Homewood Suites and Marriott’s Residence Inns for example. But Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc is honestly trying to revamp the product offering and gives us what I think are the best names in a pretty stale sounding industry.
Two that I like are “W” and “aloft.” If you were a young, Gen-X traveller — the kind of person the bosses send away from home for two weeks to do some work on the road — wouldn’t these brand names catch your eye? Wouldn’t you rather stay at one of these places if you were bringing your young family on a road trip?
CEO Steven J Heyer has amped up the brand naming, noting in a recent article that people show more brand loyalty to ketchup than to 300-room hotels. The W brand is synonymous with trendy loft living, while the one-year-old “aloft” brand is a lower-priced version of W.
Now, Starwood has a new brand, codenamed “Project ESW” that will offer a high-end version of their aloft suites to extended-stay travellers. Think stainless steel kitchens, exotic, stocked pantries, big exercise centres, cafés, terraces and pools.
Hyatt is rolling out its own brand to compete with aloft and Project ESW called The Hyatt Place. I just do not see this as inspired naming, especially when InterContinental has a much better-named brand called Hotel Indigo that, like W and aloft, is essentially a lifestyle offering and offers developers a “custom design mantra” called “Interpret Indigo” that allows them to build Indigo Hotels to fit their surroundings, eliminating “cookie cutter hotels”.
For some more interesting comments on Westin Hotels' foray into the extended stay hotel segment check out:
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