CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL celebrated eight decades in business during its 65th annual convention in Las Vegas this week. That anniversary marked big changes for four of the company’s midscale brands, Quality Inn, Clarion, Sleep Inn, and MainStay Suites, all of which now have upgraded logos.
The new logos were revealed over the course of the conference during brand sessions. Each was designed to reflect both the brands’ traditions and the image they seek to project to modern guests, including a focus on giving a better presentation on mobile devices.
Quality Inn’s new logo retains its recognizable “Q” and green color. Clarion’s incorporates elements from its recently launched Clarion Pointe to represent the brand’s position in the focused service segment. Sleep Inn’s keeps its eclipsing moon and purple background in a simpler, cleaner combination, and MainStay’s is an ambigram of its M.S. initials.
“The ‘By Choice Hotels’ endorsement on each logo received overwhelmingly positive feedback from consumers,” said Choice’s vice president for brand management, design and compliance Anne Smith. “And owners told us that the connection to our master brand is a value add for their business.”
Choice executives say the renovations for launching the new look, which come on the heels of a major transformation of the company’s Comfort brand, will be phased in as painlessly as possible.
“You’ll have time to make this upgrade over the course of the next two years, by November, 2022,” Smith said.
There will be some support available, too.
“For our earliest pioneers, Choice will share in a portion of the cost,” said Kristen Salotti, Choice’s senior director of foundation brands.
The recent revamp of Comfort led to a very different logo because that brand was undergoing a total transformation, Smith said.
“What consumers told us in that case was, if you make the logo too much the same, I’m not going to think differently of your product,” Smith said. “But now when we think about the four brands that we’re reimaging this year for our 80th anniversary, it’s a different story.”
These changes are more about bringing the brands in line with what the guests expect, she said. The Comfort process did create a foundation of learned experience for this new change. For example, Smith said the company knows to have vendors lined up for the changes.
The cost of replacing the signs differs from property to property depending on complexity and usage of each property, Smith said. There may be some resistance to the change, but she said she is not expecting a lot of exits.
“Right now, owners have a lot that they are working through in terms of their own operations,” Smith said. “I don’t expect there to be a lot of exits. Would there be someone who says ‘That’s it, that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back because of lots of other things? Yes, that could happen. But we’re not trying to drive any exiting behavior through this.”
However, one of the newly revamped brands, Quality, will be seeing some properties exiting the system soon due feedback from some owners about the hotels in question, Choice President and CEO Pat Pacious announced at the conference.
“Some of you told me directly that you have concerns that some hotels are not living up to our Quality standards,” Pacious said. “You told me it’s important to you to preserve quality and reputation. I hear you, and protecting what we built together is one of my top priorities. So, that means not everybody in the system will be up for the next phase with us.
“The hotels out there that are not delivering on what our owners expect and our guests deserve don’t deserve to be Quality. And so, for the good of the system and the good of the folks in this room, we started notifying those hotels who either need to improve or find another brand.”
Some of the hotels will exit this year, Pacious said.
“Now, we’ll work with those hotels and we will remain fair to all, but we will not let the hotels that refuse to live up to our standards jeopardize what you built,” he told the attendees. “It’s not fair to you.”
Comfort, Quality Inn, Clarion, Clarion Pointe, Sleep Inn and MainStay Suites are expected to open more than 150 hotels combined in 2019, including in cities like Brooklyn, New York; Nashville, Tennessee; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; San Antonio, Texas; and San Diego, California.
Comfort hotels brand has added seven new properties this year, each displaying the new logo. The new hotels include Comfort Inn & Suites in Findley Lake, New York; Wildwood, Florida; and Michigan City, Indiana. The remaining three are Comfort Suites in Burlington, Washington; Eufaula, Alabama; and Humble, Texas.
Also during the conference, Oklahoma City-based Champion Hotels Group founder Champak “Champ” Patel received the Premier Legacy Award from Choice Hotels International at the opening of the company’s 65th Annual Conference in Las Vegas. Patel was one of several Choice developers and franchisees honored during the event.