A group of Choice Hotels International’s stable of brands are getting facelifts, the company announced at its 57th annual convention. Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites hotels will undergo a complete cosmetic redesign, while the Clarion brand will reinvent itself and offer more to guests in an effort to corner the mid-scale market. Changes are expected to take effect across all brands beginning in early 2012.
Comfort Inn, with 1,978 hotels around the world, announced an entirely new redesign that will help to modernize the 30-year old brand. New lobbies featuring plush seating areas for working, meeting, and socializing will be established. In addition, spa-like baths, new bedding, and lounge areas will be added to each of the brand’s more than 151,000 rooms worldwide.
New welcome walls will enhance Comfort Inn reception areas and stone backdrops will also be constructed as the brand looks to modernize the guest experience and keep pace with boutique hotel offerings.
Within the Comfort Suites brand, upgrades include enhanced lobby and room amenities, including new bedding color schemes, interactive touch screen computers with local attractions located in the lobby, guestroom recharging stations with multiple electrical outlets, USB ports, and individually controlled LED reading lights. Free WiFi will also be available to guests in the lobby.
“As the most well recognized brand family from Choice Hotels, we knew that keeping the warm and welcoming feel of the Comfort brands while also refreshing them for the modern traveler was paramount,” said Christina Williamson, senior director of brand planning and management for the Comfort brand. “Our aim in offering these new designs was to give guests the environment that truly felt like a home away from home, a hotel that they can make truly their own.”
The first phase of the redesign will be seen early next year with the implementation of new bedding packages.
“The new design for the Comfort brand family is based on earthen colors, which evoke peace and warmth with refreshing jewel-tone accent colors to provide inspiration,” added Brenda Wulff, director of product design and innovation for Choice Hotels. “What’s more, the design is great for business, as consumers indicated a significant increase in intent to stay based on the new look and feel for the brands.”
Meanwhile, Choice also rolled out deep changes that will help to transform the Clarion brand, a 323-hotel chain that caters to the corporate and group traveler.
“We’ve been focusing on the things we think will make Clarion distinctive,” said Steve Joyce, president and CEO of Choice Hotels. “We know what we’ve got, but we can create better differentiation within the Choice portfolio versus our other brands, but more importantly, versus the competition we face every day.”
Among the changes to the 323 Clarion hotels around the world are a set of amenities designed to attract more mid-market group business. Set to take effect early next year, the hotels are focused on expanding food and beverage service with the addition of designated areas for daily hot breakfast, dinner, and a lounge that will serve, at minimum, beer and wine for at least four hours a day.
On the heels of estimated 10 percent growth experienced by Clarion last year, according to Choice executives, the brand is also rolling out a new marketing campaign aimed at group travelers that conveys the message “Clarion helps people come together.”
The three-phase brand reinvention will start with all Clarion hotels creating a designated on-site area for catering services, an expanded catering program, and a designated area within each hotel for a lounge, where beer and wine will be served. Completion of the first phase is expected by Feb. 1, 2012.
The second phase, expected to be implemented by Feb. 1, 2013, will see all Clarion brand hotels serving a full breakfast menu, consisting of eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, griddle items, fruit, dairy, and bakery goods.
The third phase will include evening meal service, pick-up service, and the creation of a designated area where guests can eat their meal. This may be the same as the breakfast room. Choice hopes to have the third phase operational by Feb. 1, 2014.
“Catering can deliver room sales,” said Tom Prykanowski, Clarion’s food and beverage director. “The mid-scale meeting market is huge. Even in a down economy, people are still getting married and companies still need to meet face-to-face. That’s good news for us. That’s why by Feb. 1 of next year, all Clarion hotels will offer catering services.”