Starwood announced this morning that they’re introducing a new brand: Tribute Portfolio.
The first hotel in the brand will be the Royal Palm on South Beach, which came into Starwood as a Luxury Collection property.
Up next will be new hotels in Asheville, North Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee, Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina.
Eventually we should see Europe, the Caribbean, and possibly African safari properties. There hasn’t been a really great mainstream safari redemption since Hilton lost the Salt Lick Lodge.
What Is the Brand Supposed to Represent?
I don’t love the proliferation of brands and I don’t the core idea that many hotel brands are supposed to represent. I try to understand its essence.
With a motto of “Stay Independent,” this is almost an unbrand. Usually you have very clear brand standards so that a brand tells you in advance what you’re going to get. Think Marriott, the sameness is precisely the attraction. You’re going to get the same experience at their hotels in Malaysia and in France.
Tribute Portfolio appears to be:
- A conversion brand, they can take over a hotel that was built as an independent or that had been managed by another chain and they don’t have to worry whether it ‘fits’. This lets them grow, take on more management contracts, and fill geographic gaps.
- Upscale, but at a price point somewhat lower than Luxury Collection. These will be full service hotels, but they aren’t constrained by the luxury standard.
What Will This Mean for the Company — and More Importantly for Members
I see this as an experiment in growth. It isn’t going to propel Starwood to the size of Marriott or Hilton, but they say they expect 100 Tribute Portfolio hotels by 2020. For a chain of about 1200 properties, that’s gives them an average of about one extra percentage point of growth per year.
Starwood gets more management fees. But what about consumers? We don’t get a clear brand idea, other than ‘upper upscale’ (a notch below luxury). We get new hotels to earn and redeem Starwood points, where full Starwood elite benefits apply. That makes it easier to stay within the brand.
With the release, the quote they highlight from Starwood’s CEO makes clear that this is precisely the play, for both sides:
[W]e believe Tribute Portfolio will be an exciting solution for hotel owners of distinct properties who wish to maintain their independent spirit, yet benefit from Starwood’s powerful distribution, loyalty and sales platforms. Our mission with Tribute Portfolio is very simple: bring great hotels in great destinations to our loyal SPG members, who make up nearly half of all Starwood stays.
10,000 Bonus Starpoints
Naturally they’ve stacked their 10th brand, which primarily leverages and expands their SPG program, with a promotion of up to 10,000 bonus points — 2000 per stay — at Tribute Portfolio properties through July 15. (Registration required.)