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Demystifying Hilton Brands & Why Hotels Are Changing So Much!

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Demistifying Hilton Brands

Disclosure: I recently attended a Hilton sponsored press trip. My flights, hotel and food were paid for by Hilton. All words, thoughts and ideas are my own. 

Demystifying Hilton Brands

Over the past decade it has been interesting to watch the hotel space grow and change. One of the more noticeable trends has been consolidation among the big lodging companies, but something else has played out at the same time as well. The sheer number of brands has exploded. This trend has followed an overall uptick in the quality of hotels, but has also left many consumers confused. So why do we have all of these brands anyway?

Hilton’s 20+ Brands

I recently had the opportunity to join Hilton and many of their executives in Nashville for a press trip discussing this topic. Just like other hotel management companies, Hilton has launched new brand after new brand these past few years. They have so many brands now that they have to break them into different categories. As a reminder here are Hilton’s brands.

  • Luxurious Getaways – Waldorf Astoria, LXR, Conrad, Signia
  • Local Escapes – Canopy, Tempo, Motto
  • Premium Experiences – Hilton, DoubleTree
  • Curated Collections – Curio, Tapestry
  • A suite for every guest – Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites, LivSmart Studios
  • Elevated Essentials – Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Tru, Spark
  • Coming Soon – Graduate, NoMad, SLH

While I probably can’t make you understand why each and every one of these exists, my visit left me understanding the method to the madness a bit more.

Conrad Nashville Lobby

Why So Many Brands?

One of the more impressive takeaways from my time with Hilton is just how much thought goes into each of these brands. So while it may seem like they throw up a dart and see what sticks, there are a few reasons we have seen things change so much in this realm.

Changing Traveler Needs

If you follow this space or have simply traveled to a newer brand in the past few years then you no doubt have heard the term “lifestyle”. While that term tends to get overused and often is just marketing nonsense, it really has driven many of the changes we have seen over the past decade. I boil it down to simply mean, “a hotel that fits the lifestyle of the guest.”

It’s almost cliche to discuss how much the world has changed these past 20 years, but it is true and has significantly impacted our culture. Previous generations of travelers were looking for the same room in every city. If they liked their local Hilton then they would stay at a similar Hilton wherever they traveled. Consistency was important. A Hilton should feel like a Hilton.

Today things couldn’t be more different. While some of those traditional travelers still exist (as do other types like business travelers), tourism is growing at a rapid pace and today’s travelers want something unique. Many of these brands dive deep into the demographics of who their guest is. This results in a “story” that is trying to speak to you, backed up by the design, functionality and of course the Hilton brand.

Demistifying Hilton Brands
Tempo Nashville public spaces

The Guest Isn’t The Client

While the focus on developing brands is the guests who will eventually fill the rooms, there is another reason we are seeing more and more brands. Companies like Hilton are asset light meaning they are more management companies than hotel operators. The owners are often real estate investors. Think of the list of brands as a menu designed to give them the product they want for the location, targeted demographics, room rate, etc. Hilton has a brand for every developer, market segment and city.

The Hotel Nerd – My Takeaways

As a hotel nerd I really enjoyed not only getting to tour a number of Hilton’s properties in Nashville, but also getting to speak with the executives who drive the decision making at this iconic brand. Here are a few of my biggest takeaways.

The Hilton Brand Lives On

One thing I hear a lot when talking with travelers are, “how much nicer that brand’s properties are in Asia”. A lot of properties in the United States are older, leading to an experience where a brand somewhere else may be significantly nicer than in the United States. Hilton faces this challenge with their vanilla Hilton brand, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have nice things.

Hilton just debuted a brand new property at Nashville’s airport and it has me excited for the Hilton brand once again. Hilton airport hotels are nothing new, but this property looks more like a new luxury property compared to so many older airport hotels. It is perfectly integrated into the airport, is just steps from the terminal and has an amazing rooftop where you can watch planes land from the swimming pool. What more could you want?

Hilton BNA pool with runway views.

Lifestyle Brands Are Driving Unique Properties

Did you know that with a number of Hilton’s brands the hotel owner actually chooses the design and look? Over the past few years Hilton has launched a ton of “boutique” or “lifestyle” brands where each property is unique. Nashville is full of these properties like Hotel Fraye in Nashville which is part of the Curio Collection.

Not only are these properties designed to reflect the local area (for example country music theming everywhere at Nashville hotels), but the owners choose the design and decor. Hilton does have to sign-off, but these corporate boutique hotels are in some sense really boutique hotels. Over the years I have really grown to appreciate properties like these where you can enjoy the benefits of a huge loyalty program without staying in a cookie cutter hotel.

Designing Spaces Is A Big Thing

One of the more interesting aspects of my time with Hilton was getting to discuss the thought process behind guest spaces. If you’re in a hotel designed to attract young professionals then you will find a lobby full of social spaces. Other brands will have lobbies that feel vibrant but allow you a private place within the chaos. Everything is thought about from how it will drive revenue to the hotel’s owners to why it will drive brand loyalty.

This all extends to room design as well. For example in the “approachable lifestyle” Tempo brand, the rooms feature a “power up zone” and a “power down zone”. One area is for rest and relaxation while the other is for work. They achieve this by moving the desk into the entrance hallway, thus separating the space. Another example comes from Hilton’s extended stay LivSmart brand. The kitchen has been moved so you can’t see it from the room.

Demistifying Hilton Brands
Conrad Nashville Room

Conrad Lives On

I’ll just come out and say it. Conrad is my favorite Hilton brand. I have enjoyed several Conrads in Asia and was a bit disappointed at the room quality of the Conrad in Las Vegas. Thankfully though I can say the Conrad brand in the United States is coming back strong. They opened a new property in Orlando recently and the Nashville property (which opened in 2022) is stunning. Conrad Nashville is everything you expect from the brand. (Except for no rubber duckies or bears!) It is fancy, the rooms aren’t cookie cutter and the service delivers. I hope we see more Conrads like this one get built in the United States.

The Luxurious Future Is Bright

While we have seen a ton of new brands launched, Hilton has been focusing on the higher end consumer these past few years. To start, they launched LXR (unique luxury properties) and Signia to compliment their well established Waldorf Astoria and Conrad luxury brands. And this year we have learned about a ton of other moves the company has made on the high-end. Soon NoMad and Graduate Hotels will be integrated into Hilton’s portfolio and the Small Luxury Hotels of the World partnership is coming this year as well. Heck you’ll even be able to glamp with Hilton Honors points too! 

Hotel Fraye Nashville – Curio Collection

Too Many Brands – Don’t Worry!

So I have listed a lot of the brands and have discussed a few of them, but you probably aren’t any closer to understanding why every brand exists and why you should stay at them. I guess to boil it all down, Hilton has so many brands because they want to deliver the “Hilton Experience” to all travelers across wants, needs and demographics. If you need a long term rental but want something a little nicer they have you. On a tighter budget? LivSmart to the rescue.

And this goes on and on. LXR will give you a unique boutique hotel on the high-end while Curio will deliver similar but with less luxury at a lower price. Canopy hotels feel similar on the surface as well, but slate in a bit lower than Curio. I guess the takeaway is that more choice and variety exists than ever and hotel products are better thought out and better designed to serve you the guest. So how do you know which brands speak to you? Well I suppose the best way is to travel. Notice the small differences between these brands and how they appeal to you. And if all else fails, there are still a ton of old traditional Hiltons around as well.

Demistifying Hilton Brands – Bottom Line

Hotel companies are building more and more brands. Part of this effort is to appease hotel developers, but as data on travelers has grown, it has also meant a more tailored hotel experience. From luxurious properties aimed at business travelers to affordable extended stay options, Hilton and their competitors are trying to get into every level of the game. And for that reason hotels on every level are better now than ever before.

What do you think about the explosion of hotel brands these past few years? Are you happy with the many new types of properties being built?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomerhttps://milestomemories.com/
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

2 COMMENTS

  1. […] Over the past decade it has been interesting to watch the hotel space grow and change. One of the more noticeable trends has been consolidation among the big lodging companies, but something else has played out at the same time as well. The sheer number of brands has exploded. This trend has followed an overall uptick in the quality of hotels, but has also left many consumers confused. So why do we have all of these brands anyway? ➡️ Read more […]

  2. It’s always been my impression – and you confirmed it – that all these brands are mostly about franchising and the potential to bring new hotels in who may be looking for the shiny new bauble/trend. Still, a fascinating look at the mindset of how Hilton is approaching this!

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