Big hotel brands build a conversion head of steam

Voco

The big hotel companies are placing an even greater emphasis on conversion brands as they look to make it even easier for independent hotels to join up.

The approach makes sense in the current climate where Covid-19 has messed up development pipelines. At the same time independent hotels might prefer to face the coming years under the umbrella of a bigger brand.

IHG’s Voco has sprinted to 50 signings in the space of two and a half years. A quarter of the company’s total signings came through conversion brands in 2020.

It was the same story for Hilton, where LXR Hotels & Resorts, Curio Collection and Tapestry Collection all helped conversion signings to increase more than 30 percent compared to the previous year.

“Conversions are particularly relevant given the recent business environment, as they allow our hotels to benefit from the strength of Hilton’s network effect,” Gary Steffen, category head, full-service brands, Hilton, said. 

“With the power of the Hilton name comes more than 112 million Hilton Honors members and a high-performing commercial engine, allowing us to serve as a trusted partner and help owners and operators navigate through uncertain times.”

It’s the same story across the industry, speaking last year Wyndham Hotels & resorts CEO Geoff Ballotti said: “Converting independent hotels to our brands has always been an important part of Wyndham's consistent rooms growth through both up and down cycles. And as this industry recovers from Covid-19, we believe conversions will become an even more important growth vehicle for us.”

Its not just that these established brands can offer better brand awareness and distribution, it’s also worth thinking about how the views of both business and leisure travelers might change in the short term. Will they be wary of trying out that unbranded property in case the hygiene and cleaning protocols aren’t up to scratch?