Landor Pulse: Hotel brands fight disruption through subbrand innovation

NEW YORK (26 June 2017) — When it comes to innovation in the hotel category, it’s all about subbrands, according to the latest Landor Pulse, an analysis conducted by global brand strategy and design firm Landor. In the United States, mega hotel chains such as Marriott International, Hyatt, and Westin aren’t ranked as the most innovative, but their subbrands make the list. Hyatt’s Andaz and Marriott International’s Element Hotels and Edition rank in the top 10. The only independent brand named to the list is The Standard Hotels. The Marriott International portfolio dominates the list with seven of the top 10 brands.

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The Landor Pulse of most innovative hotel brands is based on results from the United States 2016 BrandAsset® Valuator (BAV), the world’s largest database of consumer brand perception, comparing statistics for more than 76 hotel brands.

“Despite some periodic localized slumps, the global travel and tourism industry is growing with record occupancy levels,” notes Michael Khoury, strategy director at Landor. “Like other sectors, disruption has become the norm. To combat the Airbnb effect and the popularity of boutique hotels, major hotels are investing in subbrands that dial up local flavor and cutting-edge design, offering truly differentiated experiences that you just can’t find in the parent brands. We are seeing a range of strategies from voice-activated rooms (Aloft) to partnerships with relevant brands like Yoga for Bad People (Edition) and West Elm (SpringHill Suites).”

Aloft Hotel: Landor Pulse
The Aloft hotel in Abu Dhabi.

The complete list of the top 10 most innovative hotel brands according to Landor Pulse includes Aloft (Marriott International), Andaz (Hyatt), Autograph Collection (Marriott International), Edition (Marriott International), Element Hotels (Marriott International), Kimpton (IHG), Moxy (Marriott International), SpringHill Suites (Marriott International), The Standard Hotels, and W Hotels (Marriott International).

“Comparing BAV hotel category data over the last 10 years shows that perceptions of innovation have never been more important in driving brand strength,” says Maarten Lagae, Landor’s senior research manager of insights and analytics. “And while there are no high-end brands such as Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, or Peninsula on the list, innovation does happen across all market segments and across a wide range of traveler types.”

Moxy New Orleans: Landor Pulse
A room at the Moxy New Orleans.

Millennials are becoming the largest group of leisure and business travelers, and they are looking for more than just affordability. “As shared food and travel experiences have become Instagram status symbols, millennials are flocking to lifestyle-oriented hotel brands that align with their passions and weave a community feeling into the experience,” observes Lagae.

Examples include Moxy, a spin-off brand by Marriott International, which attracts millennials through a social experience that comes with a bar that never sleeps. Meanwhile, Aloft (Marriott International) has created a digitally enabled environment, with room service available via mood-specific emoji texts that is delivered by a robotic butler. Element Hotels boasts a nature-inspired design and places strong emphasis on sustainability and healthy living. IHG’s Kimpton brand has even reimagined the loyalty game. Its algorithm-based program measures and rewards overall consumer engagement with the brand based not only on room stays, but also social media interactions and attendance at wine hours or exercise classes. Many of these subbrand innovations will eventually get rolled out chainwide.

“This sort of agility is exactly what’s needed in such a dynamic, fast-moving market,” says Khoury. “Given the scale and expenditures involved, it appears the major players have decided that it’s easier—and quicker—to concentrate their experience innovations in newer subbrands, and consumers have taken notice. The question now is if and how the parent brands will be able to keep up.”

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About the Landor Pulse of Innovative Hotel Brands

Using the 2016 BrandAsset® Valuator (BAV) data of 17,000 United States consumers, Landor Pulse analyzed brand performance and innovation perceptions of 76 hotels brands. With more than 20 years of consumer data, BAV is the world’s largest and most enduring study of brand perceptions and performance. Its brand strength model—based on four pillars of differentiation, relevance, esteem, and knowledge—provides unparalleled historic and predictive insights into building, managing, and tracking brand performance.

To date, BAV tracks brands in more than 51 countries with data from 1,000,000 consumers. It covers some 55,000 brands across dozens of brand metrics and attitudinal questions. BAV is part of Young & Rubicam Group, a partnership of companies that includes Landor.

About Landor

As a global leader in brand consulting and design, Landor helps clients create agile brands that thrive in today’s dynamic, disruptive marketplace. Our work enables top brands—from Barclays to BMW and Tide to Taj—to stand for something while never standing still.

Landor’s branding services include strategy and positioning, identity and design, motion graphics, brand architecture, prototyping, innovation, naming and verbal identity, research and analytics, environments and experiences, engagement and activation, and interactive and media design.

Founded by Walter Landor in 1941, Landor pioneered many of the research, design, and consulting methods that are now standard in the branding industry. Today, Landor has 25 offices in 19 countries, working with a broad spectrum of world-famous brands. Clients include Alitalia, Barclays, Bayer, BBC, BMW, BP, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, FedEx, GE, Kraft Heinz, Huawei Technologies, Marriott International, Nike, Pernod Ricard, Procter & Gamble, S&P Global, Samsung, Sony, and Taj Group.

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