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Analysis: Where are all the new hotel brands?

19 Dec 2015 by BusinessTraveller
Exterior of the Moxy Milan

Where’s Moxy?

Announced with much fanfare by Marriott International in early 2013 (see news), the launch of a new edgy hotel brand called Moxy, aimed at the emerging Millennial generation, was set to highlight the revitalisation under way at the iconic global chain. Moxy – urban slang for those with a ‘gutsy attitude’ – represented a new style of hotel than a run-of-the-mill Marriott property. “A budget hotel with the soul of a boutique”, gushed the hotelier.

In September 2014 Marriott seemed to deliver with the opening of the first Moxy hotel, at Milan’s Malpensa airport. It does look a little box-like – it is located at Terminal 2 – but the reviews have generally been positive (see Business Traveller‘s review here). So far, the Milan Moxy remains the only one open, despite the following roll out being quoted in our news piece at the end of 2013.

“Confirmed properties are Malpensa, Milan (2014); Munich Airport (2014); Berlin Airport (2015); OstbahnHoff Berlin (2015); Cologne (2015); Heathrow, Bath Road (2015); Oslo (2015); Stratford, Westfield (2015); London Royal Docks (2015); Liverpool Cropper Street (2015); Frankfurt Gateway Gardens (2015); and Frankfurt Eschborn (2015). Other locations under consideration are Edinburgh, Brussels, Amsterdam, Malmo, Hamburg, Essen, Heidelberg, Ludwigshafen, Leipzig, York, Inverness, Cardiff and Dublin.”

In fact in the same interview two years ago there was talk of 150 Moxy hotels across Europe in the next decade.

Today Marriott is a little coy about its exact roll-out schedule, although a Moxy at Munich Airport could be open in the Spring, with the first two US properties – at New Orleans and Phoenix – also open by then. In the UK, the first Moxy could be open towards the end of next year at London’s docklands, convenient for Canary Wharf and ExCel.

Hub by Premier Inn

But Marriott is not alone in over-promising but under-delivering on new hotel brands. Whitbread-owned Premier Inn, the UK’s biggest hotelier, announced back in summer 2013 that it was launching a new sub-brand: Hub by Premier Inn.

hub by Premier Inn room view with map 2

Hub by Premier Inn

This typically would be about half the size of a regular Premier Inn but with a focus on using connected technology (such as a smartphone app to control room lights, air-conditioning and other services) to appeal to young Millennials seeking style with value. The first Hub opened in London’s Covent Garden in November 2014 (review here) – two years after the brand was launched – with the second opening only last week at Tower Bridge. Next up will be a Hub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, due for mid-March.

Hilton Worldwide also announced in October last year (see news) its intention to enter the burgeoning lifestyle sector with a new brand: Canopy by Hilton.

Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik

Yet the first Canopy is not expected to open until mid-2016 in the rather unlikely (for a global Millennial brand) Icelandic capital Reykjavik. This at the moment is scheduled to be followed by Washington DC in ‘late 2017’, according to Hilton. A Canopy hotel is set for Aldgate in east London at some stage, although no date has been fixed.

Why all these delays? Hotel analysts suggest it has much to do with the way hotel companies now develop their brands, relying on outside investors to finance the actual properties. So the strategy is to launch the new brand with a splash, then get a ‘template hotel’ up and running  to show backers how it will look and operate, before finally persuading them to invest in the roll-out.

Yet the flaw in this strategy, some experts suggest, is that the delay between concept and   implementation is too long. It  has the potential to leave business travellers and other target markets  confused about what the new brands really represent and sometimes  their actual ownership. Who, for example,  owns the Even, Venu and Vib lifestyle brands all currently either being rolled out or planned? (Answer:  IHG, Jumeirah Group and Best Western.)

Marriott, however, is doing its best to keep the buzz going around Moxy. Last month it launched a new video campaign on YouTube featuring ‘online influencer’  and comedian Taryn Southern interviewing her guests whilst reclining on a bed in a mocked-up Moxy hotel room in Los Angeles.

But perhaps her first question should be: Where’s Moxy?

David Churchill

Why the hotel mergers have only just begun

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