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Interview: Inside Hilton’s Attempt at an Independent Hotel Collection

@SamShankman

Jun 05, 2014 6:30 am

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Hilton needs to offer its loyal guests and hotel owners the same opportunities as those provided by other major brands and Curio is its solution to increased interest in local, cultured lodging options.

— Samantha Shankman

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Hilton Worldwide

Hilton Hotels made a late move into the independent hotel sector this week with the announcement of its Curio Collection. Hilton Worldwide


Hilton Hotels made a late move into the independent hotel sector this week with the announcement of its Curio Collection, a small group of independent, iconic properties that will soon have access to the Hilton distribution model.

Hilton, which is entering the market after Marriott, Starwood, and Choice, is adapting to consumers’ calls for more local experiences and hoping to tie up with four and five-star hotel in markets across the world.

The collection launched with five hotels that are strikingly different in their design and location: SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino; The Sam Houston Hotel in Houston; Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City, South Dakota; The Franklin Hotel in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and a soon-to-be-named property in Portland, Oregon.

Hilton’s brand head Rob Palleschi describes the properties as unique iconic assets that have local significance and their own identity.

Palleschi counts the number of the four and five-star independent properties with these characteristics at about 1,500 worldwide. Hilton’s goal is to claim about 20 percent, or 300, of those hotels.

“What we’re saying, and it’s kind of kitschy, is ‘your vision, our engines’,” says Palleschi. “It’s that owner’s vision and our distribution engine that we believe is going to be the perfect marriage.”

Hilton has a number of methods in place to  make sure that despite the breadth of brands and experiences offered under Curio that the quality of service meets guests expectations.

In addition to AAA and Michelin standards, guest surveys and Hilton’s inspections, executives will also consider consumer reviews left on third-party sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com.

Hilton uses Revinate to aggregate these consumer reviews and track feedback from guests. This is the first time Hilton is using the the reviews as a quality measurement, but it plans to roll it out to its other hotel properties in the future.

Hotels will need to stay in the top 25 percent of ratings across all third-party metrics to remain in good standing.

“We want that consumer feedback. We need to stay really closely in tune with what this market wants and the comments and feedback from that market,” says Palleschi who attributes these third-party sites with the rise of consumer interest in independent hotels that represent their location’s culture more than a brand.

When asked what’s driving this demand, Palleschi replies, “Information.”

“People are more informed, more educated and they’re able to do the research themselves. they’re able to get feedback from 3rd party sites as far as the quality of those assets. So I think they’re more comfortable with it.”

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