Marketing Branded Hotel Collections: It's A 'Dance'

Hotel collections, or soft brands, have become a significant segment of the lodging industry in the last few years. These are groups of independent hotels that affiliate with major brands. The benefit for brands is to extend their reach and expand the power of their loyalty programs. The advantage for the independents is that they get to be part of a global reservation system and, again, to connect with a powerful loyalty plan.

Among the larger networks are Curio Collection by Hilton and Marriott’s Autograph Collection. One player smaller than those giants has moved into the segment in a significant way: Hyatt. In fact, Hyatt now has three: The Unbound Collection, Destination by Hyatt, and JdV by Hyatt,  the last of which had formerly been Joie de Vivre hotels.

Consider the Grayson Hotel in New York, a year-old luxury property in Midtown, which is a member of the Unbound Collection.  And, of course, there’s Hyatt as the umbrella brand.

So how does one market this property, which operates under three levels of branding and is striving to remain independent? “It’s a dance,” said. Katie Johnson, vice president and global head of Hyatt’s Independent Collection, which includes all three of those soft brands.



While travelers might be familiar with Hyatt, one goal is to differentiate the three collections from one another -- and from all the other collections in the marketplace, said Johnson. The Unbound Collection properties are all about design, architecture and history – with quality standards that push into the luxury level; Destination by Hyatt members are mostly resorts and are group-focused; and JdV Hotels aim to reflect their local neighborhoods, with strong ties to the community.

While marketing is undertaken for each collection as a whole, “we know many of these guests are not looking for a brand and are independent minded-themselves,” As a result, collection marketing is done when it seems to be relevant, but with a “soft touch” that puts the individual hotel at the forefront. The hotel name, asserted Johnson, is the “hero brand.” So the hero brand is “endorsed” by the collection and “powered” by Hyatt.

While she promotes the three collections on the global end, the Grayson Hotel and its counterparts are targeting their own customers.  She said a consumer might see a Grayson ad that has a nod to Unbound but might not include Hyatt if that is in the best interest of the hotel. It also depends on geography, with the Hyatt name carrying more weight in Asia.

There are, of course, requirements to be part of a Hyatt collection hotel. Each property does require a Collection plaque with the brand logo to be on display at the hotel's entrance. Each plaque includes the collection name that the property is affiliated with.

Additionally, there are operational standards and guidelines in place to ensure every property meets Hyatt’s standards in both presentation and execution. This includes both product standards and training and development standards. Finally, every property is required to participate in the World of Hyatt dedicated check-in benefit, with the inclusion of the World of Hyatt check-in sign on display at the front desk.

Let’s face it. You’re not going to dance with just anyone.

1 comment about "Marketing Branded Hotel Collections: It's A 'Dance'".
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  1. Ronald Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, December 4, 2023 at 1:34 p.m.

    It seems the proliferation of hotel "brands" must be confusing to the consumer. I suspect the growth in brands is a ploy by hotel companies to have more product to sell to developers without being hindered by competitive restrictions and provisiions for geographic exclusivity.

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