With Red Lion Hotels Corporation’s acquisition of Vantage Hospitality complete, two brands in particular seem ripe for conversion, executives said.
LAS VEGAS—As Red Lion Hotels Corporation irons out the details of how its acquisition of Vantage Hospitality will play out, conversion opportunities that go hand in hand with strong brand positioning will play a big role.
During Vantage Hospitality’s annual conference this week, company executives spoke at length about two brands in particular: Signature Inn, a new boutique-style offering launched by Vantage this year; and Settle Inn, part of RLHC’s 2015 acquisition of the Settle Inn and Guesthouse brands. Both are excellent opportunities for conversion projects, executives said.
Settle Inn settles into extended stay
When RLHC acquired the Settle Inn brand in 2015, company President and CEO Greg Mount said it would be an excellent candidate to reposition into the extended-stay segment.
“When we got the brand, we loved the name,” he said. “We’ve been spending the last year or so retooling and repositioning it so we can go out and sell it. For us, it’s a conversion brand in that midscale extended-stay space, particularly focused on secondary and tertiary markets. It’s going to be user-friendly and conversion-friendly.”
The company has four Settle Inns open—in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas.
Bill Linehan, Red Lion’s EVP and chief marketing officer, said Settle Inn represents “a huge conversion opportunity, particularly for legacy, older-generation extended-stay brands.”
He said the new Settle Inn branding is “a lot brighter, friendlier, fresher and more playful” in its design, as well as easily adaptable for conversion opportunities. The target audience is one he calls “a little younger, entry-level to the workforce.”
Signature Inn takes lifestyle role
Signature Inn was another brand that came as part of an acquisition—in this case, Vantage’s 2014 acquisition of America’s Best Franchising’s core brands. Earlier this year, Roger Bloss, former president and CEO of Vantage and now president of global development for RLHC, detailed plans for a Signature Inn relaunch, positioning it as a design-forward, cost-effective, boutique-style option for conversions and new builds alike.
The company signed about a dozen Signature Inns before the RLHC acquisition. Now, Bloss said, the timing couldn’t be better to focus the brand as an “affordable boutique” opportunity that fits in well with RLHC’s Hotel RL, which launched in 2014 as an upscale, full-service lifestyle brand. The brand now has six properties open across the U.S.
Signature Inn currently is in the process of being tweaked to align it with RLHC, Mount said, and it will become “a play to go out and reposition existing real estate that’s in a good market and underbranded.”
“We want to make this an affordable boutique option, and it’ll resonate really well,” Bloss said. “When that guest wants to trade up, Hotel RL is there. When they trade down, Signature is there.”
Bloss and Mount both said great markets are key to Signature Inn’s success.
“We want to keep that flair there,” Bloss said, citing cities like Hollywood, California; Las Vegas; and South Beach, Miami, as great sites for the brand.
Mount said brand standards for Signature will be key.
“It’s not just about putting a sign up, or having great technology,” he said. “The physical plant has to mirror what guests in the independent, boutique market really want to see.”