RECENTLY, TRU BY Hilton opened its 100th property, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Hilton’s existence. In recognition of the milestone, Vision Hospitality Group’s President and CEO Mitch Patel, one of the early adopters of the brand, is giving his insight on its growth.
Hilton launched Tru in 2016, and that same year Vision Hospitality broke ground on a 98-room Tru in McDonough, Georgia, south of Atlanta, as part of McDonough Hotel Partners LLC. Since then the company also has opened a Tru in its hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and it is one of several Asian American-owned companies to support the brand’s growth.
That growth to 100 U.S. hotels includes 34 states, along with a Tru in Alberta, Canada. The brand’s RevPAR index is 130, and it has more than 320 hotels and nearly 31,500 rooms in the pipeline, according to Hilton.
Hilton has posted a Q&A between Talene Staab, vice president and global head of Tru, and Patel on its website on Vision Hospitality’s involvement with the brand. Below are some excerpts from that article.
Staab: You were an early adopter of Tru by Hilton. What inspired you to add the brand to your portfolio?
Patel: The midscale segment is the largest of all segments within the hospitality industry. Hilton saw a void in the segment, and that was the birth of Tru. Hilton did a brilliant job getting a focus group together, including a group of long-time owners, of which I was honored to be part of. The team asked for owner input right from the beginning and really listened to that feedback every step of the way. As such, Tru is truly a brand that has been designed in collaboration with the development community.
Staab: What would you consider the key differentiator of Tru by Hilton?
Patel: The offering and amenities set Tru apart from other midscale brands. I think the public spaces are one of the keys to the brand’s success. Larger than a traditional hotel’s would be, they provide a fun, bright space for playing, gathering and eating. Tru guest rooms are compact yet efficiently designed. The rooms are bright, clean and functional with great beds and efficient storage. The bathroom provides a great shower experience, with plenty of space, great lighting, and a clean, airy look. Overall, guest feedback has been positive across the board.
Staab: Tru recently opened its 100th hotel. In your opinion, why do you think the brand has experienced such fast growth? What would you tell a new hotelier looking to open a Tru?
Patel: Lots of existing Hilton owners are building Tru hotels, but I’ve also talked to many new-to-the-Hilton-family owners who are developing a hotel for the first time with Tru. I think the brand is a great entry for an owner as in my experience, it has a great business model and an attractive value proposition. The development cost per key to average rate per key works really well, which is crucial. Plus, Tru is able to penetrate many different types of markets, whether it’s a downtown location or a town with a population of 10,000 people. The opportunities are extremely broad and the brand is attracting a [wide] developer audience.
Staab: How was the development process for Tru?
Patel: The bottom line is important, and I love the efficiencies with Tru. The brand has a compact prototype, which is key because land is becoming scarcer than ever. Tru only requires 1 ¼–1 ½ acres to build, compared to 2–2 ½ in a traditional hotel. That more compact footprint helps bring construction costs down. In my experience, Hilton supply management has done a great job creating efficiencies with FF&E. Tru provides several package options for owners to select from, helping save on time and costs and making it very simple for developers.
Staab: How are your Tru properties performing?
Patel: For Tru by Hilton McDonough, we’ve penetrated that market extremely well, and we’re the number one hotel in the midscale segment there. We’re also very happy with our recent openings with Tru by Hilton Atlanta NW Kennesaw and Tru by Hilton Chattanooga Hamilton Place. The first night we opened in Chattanooga, we had quite a bit of walk-in business, a sign that people were looking for a Hilton product in the market. The hotel has strong performance for being just a month old, and we’re on the path to success with the occupancy and average rate ramping up.