The Wall Street Journal covers the hot competition for hotel conversion brands (HT: Alan H.) with Marriott’s Delta hotels acquisition poised to compete with Hilton’s Doubletree for hotel owners that don’t want to spend a lot to bring their properties up to what would otherwise be a brand’s standards.
What’s the advantage to a hotel in becoming a Doubeltree?
Over the past 12 months ended in September, 96% of the net 4,406 new DoubleTree rooms were added by converting hotels from other brands, according to STR.
Most every hotel brand requires owners to pay for periodic renovations to keep the properties fresh. Hotel owners say in some cases they can save several million dollars by opting for DoubleTree.
“DoubleTree allows some freedom in standards,” said Robert Cole, chief executive officer of Hospitality Ventures Management Group, which owns and operates nine DoubleTrees, all of which were converted from other brands by his firm or by previous owners.
Mr. Cole said, for example, DoubleTree allows for individual air conditioning units in rooms, as opposed to requiring owners to install a central air system throughout the hotel. That alone, Mr. Cole said, can save a hotel owner a few million dollars.
There’s no commonality – other than Hilton HHonors – that makes a hotel a Doubletree, that tells a hotel guest what to expect. That’s why Doubletree gives out the cookies.
Discussing cookies at check-in was a memorable part of the movie Up in the Air.
Of course Marriott has its Autograph Collection for higher-end conversions, in addition to Delta hotels that will compete to manage hotels from other brands without the requirement to spend a lot of money to become a Marriott.
Delta owners will be allowed to keep stucco ceilings (also known as cottage cheese ceilings), bathtub showers and in-wall air-conditioning systems. Marriott hotels must have mostly stand-alone showers, and won’t allow the ceilings or older air-conditioning systems.
Overall, Mr. Silverman estimates, hotel owners would pay up to 50% less to convert a hotel to a Delta compared with upgrading the property to the Marriott brand.
Like Autograph Collection, Starwood has its new Tribute Portfolio — no brand standards, the hotels are unique (though upper end, however not as high-end as their Luxury Collection hotels). We can expect to see at least one more, or perhaps more, “un-brands” from a major chain where it’s the loyalty program that holds things together.