Best Western Hotels & Resorts has launched its first extended-stay brand, SureStay Studio, aimed at the upper end of the segment, targeting both conversions and new builds.
Best Western’s launch came alongside a new brand from Hyatt, looking at the select-service customer.
Best Western’s president & CEO, David Kong, said: “SureStay Studio solidifies BWHR as a global leader in the economy and premium-economy segments. In a short span of time, SureStay Hotel Group has experienced tremendous growth around the world, and we are confident that SureStay Studio will further bolster this already successful portfolio of hotels.”
“SureStay Hotel Group is the perfect home for a premium-economy extended stay brand, and the launch of SureStay Studio comes at a critical time,” added Brad LeBlanc, SVP & CDO, BWHR. “The economy extended stay segment is hot right now! As one of the most profitable segments in the industry, we’re seeing growing demand from both developers and travellers. SureStay Studio is a value-engineered prototype offering developers strong ROI.”
Best Western launched three brands under its new SureStay flag in 2016, using a white label franchise model. The brand, which does not feature the Best Western name, was seen as a reaction to the launch of the low-cost Magnuson Hotels, which offered a fee-based alternative to franchises.
The company said at the time that SureStay opened up a “migration path” for Best Western hotels which do not wish to pursue its design programme.
The SureStay umbrella includes: SureStay Hotel (premium economy), SureStay Plus Hotel (lower midscale) and SureStay Signature Collection (midscale soft brand). Best Western said that it aimed to provide options in the marketplace “for franchisees who are disillusioned by one-sided contracts that do not deliver”.
Kong said: “In North America, there are currently 17,000 branded hotels, and another 12,000 unbranded, in the economy and midscale segments. The white label approach allows Best Western to tap into this tremendous potential without compromising its brand image.
“Currently, many of these hotels have little to no consumer relevance. Their brands have very little potential to drive superior revenue, and the owners are incurring high franchise fees from brands that don’t provide the necessary support, service or value.”
In addition achieving and maintaining a TripAdvisor score of 3.5 or higher, SureStay hotels also need to adhere to the SureStay Service Promise, which will include factors such as speed of Wi-Fi connection and standard of breakfast, as well as agreement to surprise inspections. Unlike the Best Western estate, there is no requirement to renovate a property to fit with design or standard requirements, as long as the TripAdvisor score and Promise are met.
The company said that the brand had garnered “significant interest among developers in the premium-economy market because of its competitive fee structure and access to BWHR’s powerhouse brand”.
At Hyatt Hotels Corporation, the group launched Caption by Hyatt, a new lifestyle brand within the select service category that the company said: “will bring people closer together, allowing them to work, eat or socialise in comfortable, flexible, communal spaces that encourage meaningful conversations and connections”.
“At Hyatt, we believe in the power of personal connection,” said Heather Geisler, VP global brands, Hyatt. “By listening to our guests, we know that whether they are traveling alone or with a friend, they are looking to connect with others in an environment that is authentic and approachable. The Caption by Hyatt brand will invite guests and locals alike to hang out, enjoy a cocktail and catch up with a friend, new or old, in a space that is intended for them.”
“We intend for the Caption by Hyatt brand to be a global growth driver domestically and internationally in dense urban markets, emerging neighbourhoods and high foot traffic areas,” added Jim Chu, global head of development for Hyatt. “We believe the brand is primed for strong growth as it can flex and adapt to suit the needs of different locations and markets and can offer a more sustainable approach to design and operations.”
HA Perspective [by Katherine Doggrell]: The economy extended stay segment IS hot right now, that nice Mr LeBlanc is right. And you know what else is hot? Spaces which are “intended for them” them being, well, people who want a drink, such as journalists trying to keep up with new brand launches.
Because what all hotel groups are realising is that, thanks in large part to Airbnb, hotel guests are thoroughly over the cookie-cutter brands and are looking for something which suits their needs, be they requiring a space they can actually live in, or a bar they want to invite their friends into.
And hotels, as Accor has stated with its own local strategy, need to see the area around their hotels less as a source of potential employees and irritated neighbours and more as a source of revenue, which means that they need to create spaces people want to come to, rather than walk through to get to somewhere more interesting.