1 November 2022, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
ABTN speaks to Mark Nogal, Hilton Worldwide's regional head of focussed service brand management for Europe, about the worlds of Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton.
Tell us about Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton...
When you take a look at our focussed brands, there are two we have brought international. That’s the Hampton by Hilton (HBH), which is redefining economy, and then Hilton Garden Inn (HGI), the mid-price property, value proposition, and together we call these our focused brands because they fit in between other established categories.
So they are between select service and full service?
Correct. We are focusing in on what that individual traveller needs when they are on the road, and not charging them for things that they may not use. So if you’re going into certain cities you might not need a big ballroom or a big spa, but you’re looking for value, looking to make your own stay easy. You carry your own luggage in and out of our building, but you value complimentary internet access in all of our rooms. For the HGI brand, we have a complimentary business centre with key card access if you need to print out a document, a boarding pass, for instance.
It’s great that you have free internet access, but how does that work when the full service Hilton and Doubletree by Hilton brands don’t?
Well we are building new hotels, and when you build new hotels you can put the infrastructure in. When you have an established hotel it’s much more expensive to put that infrastructure in. Also if you are a gold or a platinum member of our loyalty programme, Hilton Honors, you get free internet access in those full service brands.
What else is included in the “focus” part?
Some of the hotels will have swimming pools but it’s not a requirement like it is in America. If you are in a destination market, then you have to have one. But generally, no. Both brands have gyms free of charge to the guest. We have done our research on the sort of gym the guests are expecting and the gyms aren’t huge but they have consistent equipment and if you bring your workout kit with you, then you can get a good workout and continue with your programme.
Hampton by Hilton includes free breakfast each morning, and we have a pub offering, so we can get you food for lunch or dinner. For the Hilton Garden Inn we charge for breakfast but it’s a full breakfast, and we also have lunch and dinner and evening room service.
The other aspect about HGI is if you’re a road warrior and you get on your eight o’clock flight that leaves at 2220 and you get to the hotel after midnight, both brands have a market. In HGI we have what we call the Pavilion, with a fridge, and a microwave allowing you to warm up food. And if for some reason airport security has taken away a personal product because it’s the wrong size we have the Market available 24 hours a day so you can replace it. And in the HGI brand we also have a refrigerator in all our hotel rooms, so if you are staying multiple nights you can pick up your water or juice and keep those things in there.
So the two new brands are new build?
They are. We would entertain conversions but it’s very selective. One of the biggest aspects for both brands is the consistency of the brand. When you’re a loyalist to the Hampton Garden Inn you want the same thing each time you travel. You know what you have to pack, what you have to bring with you.
For both of the focussed service brands as a system we run some of the highest Hilton Honors contribution. They are staying with us and redeem with us. When they take their family, for instance, they might stay at the Hilton or the Waldorf or the Doubletree.
So is it a different person stay in your properties or the same person on a different trip purpose?
Trip purpose. If you look at the spread of our brands we have got a product for you when you are travelling. We currently have eight Hamptons trading in the UK. Liverpool City Centre is a fantastic hotel as well.
What is the price difference between the two brands?
We’re running about a £25 difference between the two.
How would people choose between the brands?
It’s all about location and how our sales team sells it with the accounts, and organises a negotiated rate. Deciding which property should open where is down to the market research to understand the dynamics of the individual market, and understanding how the food and beverage in the local community works. If we’re in a location where there is nothing we need to lean towards the HGI because we need to facilitate the needs of the guest. But in Liverpool City Centre you can cross the street and there’s probably 20 free-standing restaurants. So it’s not so necessary. There’s a dfference in the cost of development as well. With Hampton by Hilton the rooms are 21sqm, for HGI they are 24sqm.
And are you getting good feedback from these new brands?
We track our satisfaction scores and our focussed brands are running some of the highest scores in the system. The hotels are smaller so you can get to know the people at the desk. We are having to undo what the airlines do to our guests before they get to us. And that’s one of our biggest challenges, to get them to have their shoulders relax, and be a human again, and not a number. It’s service and it’s recognition
In the US Hampton has more brands than just these two...
There are some extended stay products in the US but we are probably three or four years away from bringing those over. The reality is that some of it is rather intensive from a development cost, because it is a two room suite. But we have a brand new brand in the US, it’s called Home2Suites by Hilton. It’s a single bay room and it’s aimed at guests who are staying 10 nights or longer, but because we’ve only just opened the first one in the US we need to fine tune the offering in the US before we take it out into the rest of the world.
I’d also say that I don’t know it’s been fully defined yet as to what extended stay might mean. And here in Europe you have more serviced apartments, but if you have a training facility where you are bringing people in for two weeks of training, this is perfect. I think it will come, but we’re working on getting the right product first, especially with the speed of expansion of the two brands we have here.