Brands launched in 2018 target experience-driven guests
Brands launched in 2018 target experience-driven guests
15 JANUARY 2019 9:53 AM

From Aiden to Zip, 2018’s hotel brand launches encompass everything from extended-stay concepts to lifestyle offerings. This roundup gives a snapshot of the new brands making headlines.

GLOBAL REPORT—Hotel brand launches in 2018 ranged from extended-stay offerings to pod-style products, but all have one element in common: They’re designed to appeal to travelers seeking various authentic experiences. 2018’s launches include urban properties and secondary city offerings across various classes and segments. This alphabetical listing offers a snapshot of brands announced in 2018:

Aiden Hotel and Sadie Hotel/Best Western Hotels & Resorts

Recognizing that the company’s best chance to grow scale is through conversions, Best Western President and CEO David Kong announced the Aiden Hotel and Sadie Hotel boutique brands in September 2018.

Both conversion opportunities, Sadie will sit in the upscale space and Aiden in the upper-midscale space, and both will emphasize unique design elements, an activated lobby where guests can get drinks and coffee and fast ramp-up for owners.

“We want to help hotels that already have to spend money on renovation,” Kong said. “They have to spend the money anyway … they may as well make it a boutique hotel and make it an experience.”

Asai Hotels/Dusit International

Thailand-based Dusit International launched its new brand, Asai Hotels, in April 2018 “designed to link curious, millennial-minded travelers with authentic local experiences in vibrant cities and resort destinations worldwide,” according to a news release.

The company bills the brand as “affordable lifestyle” and “inspired by community and driven by sustainability.”

Clarion Pointe/Choice Hotels International

A midscale select-service brand extension of Clarion, the Clarion Pointe brand from Choice Hotels International is designed to “leverage the (full-service, upper-midscale) Clarion brand and bring that into midscale because we know guests are continuing to see affordable premiums and those elevated touches, but that shouldn’t be confined to a price point that’s out of their reach,” said Anne Smith, VP of brand management and design at Choice.

Launched in September 2018, Clarion Pointe will feature contemporary design, free breakfast and coffee and on-demand connectivity.

Compass by Margaritaville Hotels & Resorts/Margaritaville Holdings

Margaritaville Holdings launched the upscale lifestyle Compass by Margaritaville Hotels & Resorts brand in June 2018 as an experience-driven lifestyle product that expands the company’s Jimmy Buffet-inspired portfolio.

“It’s all about escapism—this is boutique and it’s also select service,” VP of Hotel Development Rick Cunningham said. “Consumers told us (select-service brands) are all starting to look the same. We want to make sure Compass reflects a fun, light, airy feeling … a feeling like you’re at a friend’s house.”

HomeTowne Studios by Red Roof/Red Roof Inns

August 2018 brought the launch of two variations on a new extended-stay brand from Red Roof Inns—HomeTowne Studios by Red Roof and HomeTowne Studios and Suites by Red Roof. Targeting conversion properties, the brands were designed to fill a niche for consumers and Red Roof franchisees, Red Roof President Andrew Alexander said.

"The extended stay category continues to grow as consumer preferences continue to evolve," Alexander said. "The launch of HomeTowne Studios by Red Roof is a natural progression, and key milestone, as we extend our portfolio for a range of guests.”

Kinley/Vision Hospitality

Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Vision Hospitality in November 2018 announced it would launch a new boutique brand called Kinley, which will sit in the company’s new lifestyle division. Designed around local arts, culture and experiences, the brand will “provide a home base for active explorers and casual adventurers,” according to the news release.

Maxx by Steigenberger/Deutsche Hospitality

Deutsche Hospitality’s fourth brand, Maxx by Steigenberger, launched in March 2018 as a conversion- and franchise-friendly brand sitting below the company’s Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts, Jaz in the City and IntercityHotel brands.

“It is an upscale brand that will be ideal for conversions and have a more flexible approach to brand standards. We have had the pain of rejecting assets because of our other brands’ strict standards,” said CEO Thomas Willms.


Motto by Hilton/Hilton

Hilton launched the midscale Motto brand in 2018 on the heels of its 2016 launch of Tru by Hilton midscale brand to further capture the growing middle-class traveler, according to company executives at the brand’s October launch.

The smaller room sizes—averaging around 160 square feet—and presence of adjoining rooms in the brand’s global city-center locations take inspiration from hostels and will attract “a whole segment of our customers and customers that we want to attract into the system that really are much more focused on traveling to an urban environment,” Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta said at the brand launch.

Pilot Hotels

Backed by American private investor Marcy Holthus, the Pilot Hotels brand launched in August 2018 with two hotels in its portfolio, designed to elevate “authentic, curated, destination-defining properties to an extraordinary level,” according to the news release.

Holthus opened the Washington School House Hotel in Park City, Utah, in 2011, and that property will sit under the Pilot Hotels brand.

Tavinos/Fujita Kanko

“Adventure-seeking millennials” are the target guest for new Japanese brand Tavinos, launched in November 2018 from Tokyo hospitality company Fujita Kanko. The company is targeting lower rates in premier urban locations, with automated check-in and check-out, and minimal staffing.

"There are already affordable accommodations throughout Japan, but travelling millennials are hungry for the community of a hostel and the professionalism and expertise of an experienced hotelier," said Akira Segawa, president and CEO of Fujita Kanko.

The Red Collection/Red Roof Inns

In September 2018, Red Roof Inns announced its first soft brand, The Red Collection, targeting upper midscale affiliation properties in urban city centers—where Red Roof’s core brands don’t have much presence.

“We asked customers how they want to interact with Red Roof in a city environment—in the heart of the cities you like to visit,” . “Most Red roofs are highway, university, roadside, secondary and tertiary markets—those types of properties don’t necessarily play well in this type of environment.”


In a move to grow its higher-end footprint, InterContinental Hotels Group in June 2018 launched the upscale conversion brand Voco, primarily for Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Later the brand will come to the Americas and Greater China, according to company executives.

“Crowne Plaza targets primarily business occasions; Voco is positioned to appeal to both business and leisure travelers, as well as being supportive to hotels with strong local (food and beverage), banqueting and events business,” said Karin Sheppard, managing director of Europe for IHG.

Wanda Moments/Wanda Hotels & Resorts

China-based Wanda Hotels & Resorts added its new midscale brand, Wanda Moments, in November 2018, with the plan to develop 700 hotels in China over the next five years. This is Wanda Hotels & Resorts’ fifth hotel brand, and is designed to provide “high-quality selected service to business travelers with unique taste,” according to the news release announcing the launch.


Extended stay is the focus of Yotel’s new brand, YotelPad, launched in January 2018.

“I see the guest (for YotelPad) as being the exact same person as our guests for our other brands, but suddenly their purpose of travel has changed. That will not be the case all the time, of course, and there will be new guests, but all will require well-designed, tech-savvy accommodations,” Yotel CEO Hubert Viriot said.

Zabeel House by Jumeirah/Jumeirah Group

Announced in January 2018, Jumeirah Group’s Zabeel House by Jumeirah brand is an “upscale casual” brand for business and leisure travelers interested in exploring the local neighborhood, across the United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.

“Zabeel House by Jumeirah is for the traveler who wants to enjoy our award-winning hospitality, but experience it in a more relaxed and casual setting,” said Marc Dardenne, Jumeirah Group COO at the time of the announcement.

Zip by Premier Inn/Whitbread

Britain’s Whitbread launched its third hotel brand, the economy Zip by Premier Inn, in October 2018 as a “super budget” concept revolving around tiny rooms (around 92 square feet) in non-central city locations.

“Zip is for a highly value-conscious consumer who still wants the rudiments of a good hotel,” said Whitbread CEO Alison Brittain. “It is a significantly different offering, one with good quality, small, simple rooms for a consumer demand that we believe is underserved.”

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