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Marriott has unveiled details about its newest hotel brand, temporarily named Project Mid-T. It is mainly designed for converting existing hotels or reusing office spaces and is aimed at middle-class travelers.

Marriott International revealed details to Skift on Monday about its newest hotel brand — temporarily named Project Mid-T — in the “midscale” hotel category. The hotel giant said the new brand is primarily aimed at developers converting existing hotels rather than new construction and is meant to appeal to travelers worldwide.

Marriott president and CEO Anthony Capuano had teased the brand’s debut in an early May earnings call without providing details. It revealed more Monday to developers and owners at the New York University International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.

The new brand aims at transient leisure and business travelers staying an average of 1.8 nights, said Diana Plazas-Trowbridge, senior vice president and global brand leader for select-service brands.

“We’re really focused on making it an easy process for the owner to convert existing assets into this new brand,” said Plazas-Trowbridge. “For consumers, we’re meeting demand at a particular price point we weren’t reaching before with guest rooms with a few key signature items, simple fitness, complimentary simple breakfast, and open social spaces in the lobby.”

Key details on the new Marriott conversion brand

Project Mid-T is a conversion brand, meaning it’s designed to convert an existing hotel quickly or to take an office and “adaptively reuse” it as a hotel. For example, the design comes in a mix of guest room sizes that fit the needs of the building or the market (more family travelers or business travelers).

  • Simpler fees for owners. To encourage developers to sign up, Marriott has created a bundled fee, in this case 10.5%. It ordinarily breaks out a series of fees, such as a franchise royalty fee, a loyalty fee, a marketing fee, and others. Packaging upfront can make it clearer to owners what their true and final cost will be
  • Modern guest rooms. Each room will have “essential” amenities, including an open closet, a work surface, and effective storage solutions.
  • Business-friendly lounge. The lounge will have long communal tables with power strips and TVs.
  • Basic fitness. The gym will have 3 cardiovascular machines and free weights, and some other basic amenities.
Simulation of the breakfast bar in the lobby of the new Marriott conversion brand. Source: Skift.

A brand aimed at the middle class

Capuano said earlier this month that the company had created a conversion brand because the recent run-up in interest rates had created “challenges in the debt markets” for those developers seeking to build hotels from scratch.

Marriott’s new brand is the latest example of hotel groups catering to the midscale segment, a tier that falls in the middle of a spectrum between upscale and luxury brands on the one side and economy and premium-economy brands on the other. 

Marriott’s new brand is part of the giant hotel operator’s broader push into the “affordable midscale space,” or hotels that are somewhat cheaper for owners to operate and guests to book than Marriott’s more premium flagship brands. Last year, Marriott debuted the Four Points Express by Sheraton as a midscale brand in Europe, StudioRes as a midscale extended-stay brand in North America, and City Express in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We saw an opportunity given conversations with our owners and franchisees and consumer demand for solutions within our system,” said Noah Silverman, global development officer, U.S. and Canada.

Similarly, last year, IHG launched its Garner midscale conversion brand, Hilton launched its Spark midscale conversion brand, and Hyatt launched Hyatt Studios, an “upper-midscale” conversion brand.

The moves echo one of Skift’s Megatrends for this year, which is that hotel groups are developing more brands that serve budget-minded, middle-class guests with limited services but a consistent delivery of essentials.

Note: This is Marriott’s 35th “brand” but not its 35th “hotel brand.” Some of its brands, like Homes and Villas by Marriott Bonvoy, aren’t hotel brands.

CORRECTION: This article originally said the bundled fee was a first for a Marriott brand. The group also offers it for its recent StudioRes brand.

Accommodations Sector Stock Index Performance Year-to-Date

What am I looking at? The performance of hotels and short-term rental sector stocks within the ST200. The index includes companies publicly traded across global markets, including international and regional hotel brands, hotel REITs, hotel management companies, alternative accommodations, and timeshares.

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Tags: business travel, future of lodging, hotel brands, hotel development, marriott, Marriott International

Photo credit: A rendering of Marriott's newest midscale conversion brand.. Marriott

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