Choice Hotels has announced plans to refresh its brands in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, following “analysis of research into post pandemic travel requirements in key markets”.
The project will begin with the group’s midscale Comfort brand, with new design concepts underway and franchisees being encouraged “to showcase and embrace local, cultural influences since local inspiration will be part of the Comfort brand identity”.
Roaming ‘Comfort Crew’ staff members will greet guests, answer queries and process check-ins via tablets, and Choice said that Comfort properties “Everything will revolve around the Comfort Hub – a multi-purpose space and the first area guests experience on arrival”.
Hotels will transition to the refreshed branding over the next two years, and work will also begin to refresh the group’s Clarion and Quality brands this year.
In addition Choice said that it would introduce its midscale Sleep brand into the EMEA region, as well as “revisiting” plans for its upscale Ascend Hotel Collection, which was launched in the UK in 2016.
There are over 400 Sleep Inn properties worldwide, and the choicehotels.com website lists benefits of the brand as including free hot breakfast and wifi, a pool and/or fitness centre, and access to the Better Sleep relaxation app.
The changes come as Choice Hotels EMEA celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first hotel opening in Europe this year.
Commenting on the news, Choice Hotels EMEA CEO, Jonathan Mills said:
“2021 was a challenging year for our industry, but gave us the opportunity to realign with stakeholders and continue our focus on providing quality hotel choices that meet the wide variety of guest styles, travel needs and desired price points.
“While gravitation toward established brands like Choice Hotels continued, changing franchisee and guest requirements were apparent and in consideration of that, we engaged with customers and potential customers in our key European markets to best understand their evolving needs.
“Those exchanges indicated Comfort customers are looking for genuine hospitality that delivers personal service with the conveniences of a home set-up in addition to embracing and supporting local provenance.
Our guests highlighted the importance of feeling relaxed, comfortable, and connected but with a focus on convenience and a caring service all in a clean environment. These findings created an opportunity for us to refresh the Choice Hotels EMEA branded guest experience, implement clearer differentiation between our brands and best meet the evolving needs of our franchisees and guests.
“Despite continued challenging times for hospitality, EMEA remains an important growth market for us and more than ever, franchisees are looking for us to anticipate future challenges and opportunities.
Our brand refresh provides an opportunity for us to meet the evolving requirements of our franchisees and guests and excitingly Comfort is just the start!”