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Published on : Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Guests of Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites are giving the hotel brands’ sweeping, system-wide domestic transformation high marks. Choice Hotels International, one of the world’s leading hotel companies, franchises the widely recognized Comfort brand and continues to be steadfast in its commitment to support franchisees and to propel the Comfort brand’s upward trajectory. Between the company and Comfort franchisees, more than $250 million have been invested in existing hotels to make the Comfort guest experience better than ever.
“We are seeing this reaffirmed appeal of the Comfort brand on multiple fronts. In addition to strong guest satisfaction and performance levels, last year the number of agreements to build a Comfort branded hotel from the ‘ground up’ more than doubled from the year prior. Newly constructed hotels alongside our extensively renovated ones are helping to elevate the entire brand and drive more midweek guests to Comfort brand hotels,” said Steve Joyce, president and CEO of Choice Hotels International, during the Company’s 61st annual convention in Las Vegas. “We are extremely pleased, but not surprised. We were deliberate in creating and executing a strategy designed to coincide with a very favorable period in the lodging cycle. And it’s paying off.”
A MULTI-YEAR, MULTI-PRONGED TRANSFORMATION
By the end of the year, nearly 600 hotel properties will have exited the Comfort brand system since 2010. And the boom in new construction agreements aims to replace older, underperforming hotels with new, higher performing properties in those markets. A highly appealing new construction prototype for both Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites was created in collaboration with Gensler, a world-renowned architecture and design firm well established among luxury hotel brands. The Comfort brand design concept, which features contemporary yet classic elements, was developed to be extremely cost-effective to build, maintain and update and has demonstrated strong appeal with guests, more than doubling their intent to stay.
The new prototype design package also guides the renovations completed at existing Comfort hotels. Stunning, expansive renovations and upgrades have already taken place at hundreds of existing Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites hotels. Nearly 300 properties that qualified to receive funds from Choice’s landmark $40 million property improvement incentive announced in May 2013 completed the work by the end of 2014. This group of hotels is already seeing solid gains across key performance metrics, including guest satisfaction ratings, RevPAR and RevPAR index; especially those that completed before last year’s key summer travel season.
“Last year 67 million guests stayed at Comfort branded hotels across the United States. They were able to enjoy our overall new look and feel which includes innovative room design, new bedding and pillows, flat-screen TVs and enhanced device recharge capabilities. This is in addition to complimentary hot breakfast, Wi-Fi, and fitness centers — a must for business travelers — in most locations,” said Anne Smith, vice president of brand strategy for Choice Hotels International. “Delighted guests helped to elevate Likelihood to Recommend Scores for the Comfort brand to peak levels because they saw firsthand the impact these changes have made at the hotels.”
RESTED. SET. GO.
In coordination with the launch of the new Choice Hotels brand identity and integrated marketing campaign, the Comfort brand has also evolved its voice. The new brand tagline – “Rested. Set. Go.” — speaks to Comfort’s brand promise to help guests feel refreshed and ready to take on the day when staying at a Comfort hotel, whether for business or leisure travel. Research confirmed the likability and relevance of this new tagline because it struck a stronger emotional connection to what truly matters to the guest — being their best selves for the day ahead.
Because feeling refreshed is a vital part of the new guest experience, a series of enhancements is underway to elevate the bath experience. First, a new line of bath and hair products was developed specifically for Comfort branded hotels. The new bath amenities feature a retail look and feel with a citrus-mint fragrance to delight the senses. Guest bathrooms also offer larger, plusher towels and new shower curtains to meet the expectations of the upper midscale guest.
Since wellness is top of mind for guests when they are away from home, Comfort will be communicating more clearly the benefits of the onsite fitness centers available at most locations and the fact that Comfort Suites is a 100% smoke-free brand. New additions to the Comfort brand’s complimentary morning fare include fresh, healthy items such as Greek yogurt, healthy branded cereals, and a toppings bar of nuts, granola, and dried fruit. The brand is also rolling out hydration stations. Every hotel’s signature warm and inviting welcome will be underscored with lemon-infused iced water in the lobbies.