Starwood's new brand will champion independent hotels

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Starwood Hotels & Resorts today introduced Tribute Portfolio, the company’s 10th brand and second collection of independent hotels.?

Hotels within the brand will be “outstanding independent hotels and resorts,” Starwood has said.

The focus is on four star, upper upscale hotels, and Tribute Portfolio will apparently complement Starwood’s The Luxury Collection brand.

The brand launches with its first hotel being the Royal Palm South Beach Miami, and will soon open new hotels in Asheville, North Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee, Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina.??

Chief executive Adam Aron said: “With Starwood’s history of brand innovation, design leadership and our leading global high-end footprint, we believe Tribute Portfolio will be an exciting solution for hotel owners of distinct properties who wish to maintain their independent spirit, yet benefit from Starwood’s powerful distribution, loyalty and sales platforms.”

“Our mission is simple: bring great hotels in great destinations to our loyal SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) members, who make up nearly half of all Starwood stays.”
Aron also stressed the importance of the company’s B2B relationships across the world and the power of bringing these independent hotels into the forefront of travel professionals’ minds.

Starwood expects there to be 100 Tribute Portfolio hotels by 2020 with most of the growth initially in North America and Europe but expanding to other parts of the world as well. These will be a mix of new hotels and hotels already up and running with an estimated 60 to 70% falling into the second category.

Starwood says owners of independent hotels believe partnering with Starwood will improve the performance of their hotels. And also thanks to Starwood’s size the independent hotels will be able to buy what they need at better rates and also improve their commission deals with OTAs.

Aron added that this brand will do everything that organisations such as Small Luxury Hotels of the World and Leading Hotels of the World do but with one major difference – a loyalty programme with 10s of millions of members.

Tribute Portfolio properties will be located in high-demand destinations and markets where SPG members travel but today Starwood has little or no footprint.
Senior vice president of distribution, loyalty and marketing Mark Vondrasek said: “Our SPG members constantly tell us they want more choices in more destinations.

“They have told us they would like to stay with us whenever and wherever they can, and now we can reward them as they ‘Stay Independent.’”

According to a recent survey of SPG members 89% said they are interested in staying in independent hotels, particularly for leisure travel and special occasion trips to unique destinations. Additionally, nearly 70% of members said they have already stayed at an un-branded hotel property.

The survey suggested demand for more places to stay in Florida, the Caribbean, California wine country, Las Vegas, Savannah Georgia, Charleston South Carolina, ski resorts, African safari retreats,? Southeast Asia, Northern Europe (especially the Nordic countries), Rio, São Paulo, Buenos Aires. Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore.?

On top of a traditional major marketing push Tribute Portfolio is also launching a digital initiative to focus on extraordinary independent moments found at hotels throughout the brand. Dubbed #OurLikes, the campaign will celebrate the features and experiences that travellers love about staying independent. The campaign will unveil the secret spots, must-sees and can’t miss experiences of Tribute Portfolio hotels, such as the dimly-lit Edison bulbs that lead the way to an underground whiskey bar, the off-the-menu cocktail with ingredients the bartender will never disclose, or the undiscovered corner of the rooftop lounge that offers an uninterrupted view of the sunset.