Comment: Cunning new hotel collections

Quorvus, Curio, Autograph and M Gallery have a good game plan

Louise Oakley
Louise Oakley

Within the first six months of this year, two international hotel groups have launched brands with a difference; they are ‘collections’ of hotels that promise unique properties, rather than those conforming to any sort of brand standards.

In February, the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group unveiled the Quorvus Collection, “a new generation of expertly curated luxury, five-star hotels that offer a truly distinctive experience”. The company asserted that each hotel will be “individual in style, design, heritage, history, and architecture”.

Just last month, Hilton Worldwide launched Curio — A Collection by Hilton, with the bold statement that “individuality” is what “unifies the hotels”.

The brand website states that “these are hotels that define themselves”, exuding authenticity “with a distinct character and a personality you can’t duplicate”.

This approach to ‘brands’ is not new; Quorvus and Curio join Marriott International’s Autograph Collection, billed as “a diverse collection of high-personality independent hotels” and Accor’s M Gallery, which promises “a collection of unique hotels of character”.

The benefits are obvious: these global operators now have the opportunity to win over owners without forcing them to accept rigid brand standards, thus adding an alternative route to growing their portfolio.

As Carlson Rezidor SVP marketing CRM & global branding Eric De Neef said upon launching the Quorvus Collection: “it will be much more a conversion model, because it is the uniqueness of the property that will be building our collection”.

The same is true of Curio, with Jim Holthouser, Hilton Worldwide’s EVP of Global Brands, admitting that “the assets we will bring in under the Curio umbrella are largely established — they have their own sets of features and benefits, they have their own culture, they each deliver a unique experience, and we’re not going to ask them to change that”.

Operators can flag hotels they might otherwise have had to walk away from and the owner is able to maintain an air of independence, while obtaining the backing of powerful sales and marketing engines and access to millions of rewards members.

It also gives operators of the big brands the chance to add some prestigious, historic or boutique hotels to their portfolio, giving them a chance to compete with increasing numbers of stylish, highly-personalised brands such as Capella, Morgans Hotel Group, Bulgari, Baccarat and ME by Meliá.

But is there room for so many of these “collections”? Holthouser says the figures speak for themselves: “If you look at all the hotels in Europe, 60% of all hotels today are still independent, a third, roughly 30% in the US are still independent, in the Middle East, and the rest of Asia, it’s roughly 50%. So there are a lot of properties out there that could potentially fit this”.

With conversion hotels able to open faster than new-builds, it’s fair to say these operators have a good growth game plan.

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