|The company has one hotel open: the B Ocean Fort Lauderdale in Florida (pictured).
NEW YORK—B Hotels & Resorts is flexing its flexibility to reach an all-important guest demographic and, in the process, put its imprint on top 25 markets throughout the United States.
The Weston, Florida-based B Hotels is up for the challenge of expanding in an ultra-competitive industry thanks to its unique offerings, said Chris Tompkins, the company’s senior VP of marketing and brand programs, earlier this month during the New York University International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.
“What transformed since our launch (in September 2010) was the number of inquiries from ownership groups that want to put the flag on their property,” Tompkins said. “We are looking at top 25 markets. Our goal by 2016 is to have 25 hotels.”
“The caveat is that there are deals happening every day,” he added. “Deals take time, and everybody’s vying for them, so growth takes a lot of work.”
Tompkins said the interest in the B concept has been phenomenal: “We have been approached by 50 different ownership groups to brand—four of them have been new builds; the rest conversions.”
B Hotels & Resorts
The company has one hotel open: the B Ocean Fort Lauderdale in Florida. It will open its next hotel in the Downtown Disney Resort area of Lake Buena Vista, Florida, in the fall of 2013. InSite Group and Cube Capital, which acquired the property in December, will reflag the current 394-room Royal Plaza Hotel to the B Resort. It also announced plans to open the B South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, during the first quarter of 2013.
The debut of a new brand
To expedite the growth, the company is launching a second brand called b2, which will be geared toward attracting guests in a younger demographic. Located in downtown Miami, the b2 hotel will have 243 rooms when it opens during the first quarter of 2013. The b2 brand fits the company’s need to attract customers looking for select-service mentality with full-service perks, according to Tompkins.
“They’re great assets but don’t have the criteria we require as a B,” he said. “We don’t want to turn them away or create consumer confusion about what the brand is, so it’s all about value full-service.”
An example of the difference between the two brands is that B Hotels require a café-style restaurant and a signature restaurant. A b2 property will require only one restaurant, and its operational hours can be flexible. A b2 hotel also doesn’t need the same amount of meeting space that a B Hotel needs.
“The brand has a DNA and 10 unique B signature items that we won’t give on,” Tompkins said. “A B Hotel has to be a destination in a destination while b2 allows ownership groups to look at an asset and location and we’ll give where we can give.”
“The growth in the industry as a whole in the next five years is going to be in select-service,” Tompkins continued. “We don’t want to do that, we want full service. We’ve not only launched a second brand, but we launched one that opens a lot more opportunities that don’t fit the traditional mode. We consider B and b2 to be sister brands on the same level.”
Tompkins said a primary advantage the B brands have is in the licensing agreement, which features owner-friendly termination clauses, no liquidated damages after 24 months and a termination of the contract upon sale of the hotel if the new owner desires it.
Tompkins said the company’s next goal is to expand beyond Florida, focusing on “destinations that people like to go to.” He cited New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco and Austin among the top markets B would like to have hotels.
The company also tries to differentiate itself with its core amenities, Tompkins said. Among those is the “freeB” free Wi-Fi access in all guestrooms, public spaces and meeting spaces—something most full-service hotels are reluctant to provide.
“It’s not about the ‘what’ because everybody provides that today,” he said. “It’s about the ‘how’ as in ‘how did you feel?’ You can’t buy that, you can only feel that.”