BETHESDA, MD—While Delta Hotels and Resorts has had a place in this industry for decades—it began with a single Canadian hotel property back in 1962—Marriott International Inc.’s acquisition of the brand in 2015 offered up an opportunity to really clarify and refine what the brand stood for.
Jennifer McLennan, Delta Hotels’ global brand leader, noted that prior to 2015, “Delta Hotels was definitely a well-respected brand in Canada, [but]it wasn’t totally clear what the brand stood for. Following the acquisition, we put a lot of work into discerning the target customer and creating these offerings to meet their needs. That’s centered around a really focused experience. It provides these target customers with just what they really need from a hotel, but delivered at the highest quality.”
Now, she said, when guests and owners think of the Delta Hotels by Marriott brand, these five words come to mind: frictionless, streamlined, efficient, purposeful and premium.
It all goes back to Delta’s mantra, McLennan said: Simple made perfect. “We look at ‘Simple made perfect’ as doing fewer things but doing them exceptionally well,” she explained. “We’ve even layered this approach into the service training where we train our associates to really be perceptive and intuitive, to watch for body language and know when to interact and when to let the guests be on their own. This fosters this culture of having the associates really look at guests and understand what they need when they need it, and to not be in the way when they don’t really need to be.”
Focusing its efforts on what really matters to guests has resulted in a number of new innovations in recent years. For instance, in 2018, the brand introduced its pantry concept. “It’s a 24-hour, fully stocked, grab-and-go pantry—think high-end residential kitchen, just as you would go in late at night to your own kitchen pantry to grab a snack before bed, or in the morning when you head out,” McLennan said. “We wanted to deliver something different and unique for our Elite Bonvoy members. The idea is that they have access to it 24/7 throughout their stay.”
Other F&B enhancements to the brand include free bottled water in each guestroom and elevating the F&B programs. “This past year, we have gone ahead and built a beverage program built around how we can give the bartender back more time to engage with the guest, but still create some really crafted and great cocktails centered around quality,” she said.
“The fitness center is the other unique piece we bring together,” McLennan added. “We know it’s important for guests to maintain routines and that’s not just ellipticals or bicycles or treadmills, but allowing the extra space so you can continue your fitness routine, whatever that might be. If we can give people the ability to maintain their routine in any of these spaces, then it really allows us to dial up the experience. We’re helping you stay in that flow and keep the routine that you would at home all through your hotel experience. It’s one of the things I think that the brand has done really well.”
And the proof is in the pudding—or, in this case, the pipeline, as the Delta Hotels by Marriott brand seems to have found its niche in attracting hoteliers.
“We are one of Marriott’s fastest-growing brands, and the growth is really a testament to the success of this ‘Simple made perfect’ mantra,” McLennan said. “We can point to bottled water, to the fitness center—and I really think the pantry provides that edge. It really does give control back to business travelers by providing them with all of the luxuries of a full-service brand with none of the fuss. Owners love it too because it provides this efficient model for running a full-service hotel. We’ve seen a lot of success with it, we’re really excited about it, and we continue to grow it and bring it into some of these unique destinations and markets.”
Delta has 24 signed deals in North America, five in Europe, six in Asia-Pacific and another in the Middle East. “It’s grown exponentially, and we’re really excited to be one of the seven brands that will be included in our all-inclusive strategy,” McLennan said, referring to Marriott International’s announcement last year that it was launching an all-inclusive platform leveraging the following brands: The Ritz-Carlton, Luxury Collection, Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels, W Hotels, Autograph Collection and Delta Hotels by Marriott.
“Since we acquired the brand, it’s grown significantly, and truly into this global brand,” McLennan said. “We have 71 hotels across North America, as well as hotels in Europe and Asia-Pacific, and as of this year, we have our first hotel in Dubai in the Middle East. It just continues to grow and has a lot of potential. We’re really excited about the pipeline around the world.”
This growth includes the brand’s first signed deal for a hotel in Midtown Manhattan, which is expected to open later this year or in 2021. “That’s awesome for us because it really brings us to a truly iconic hospitality destination,” McLennan noted. “And, we’re also expecting to open hotels in Virginia Beach and Santa Clara.”
The brand leader noted that one of the advantages of Delta Hotels by Marriott is that it adapts easily to these different markets. “The beautiful thing about the brand is it does get adopted easily,” she said. “When we look at everything we stand for, taking the guest needs and dialing them up and delivering them at a full-service perspective, we’ve seen a lot of traction with that and a lot of guest compliments.”
However, the brand isn’t afraid of change, either. “We’re doing a lot to evolve our free bottled water program. It’s one of the elements we’re known for and that our guests really like,” McLennan said.
However, Marriott is well-aware of how harmful single-use plastic is to the environment, and is committed to its sustainability goals.
“We’re aware of the impact of single-use plastic, and we want to look for ways to adopt this to become more sustainable,” she said, noting that this is especially true as the brand is focused on rapid growth into new markets. “We have filtration stations on every floor, we have filtration stations in fitness centers. This evolution of single-use plastic will be a lot easier for our brand [as we look at]what that looks like and how we service the customer.”
McLennan noted that this will remain true for Delta’s partnership with Soapbox, which supplies guestroom amenities like soap, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. “Its model is buy one, give one,” said McLennan, noting that each bottle has a Hope Code. “Guests can take that code, go to the Soapbox website and enter the code. Soapbox tracks the amount that’s used and, at end of the year, it will take that amount and donate soap to developing countries that have a need and opportunity to use it.
“We traveled to India this year and last year to donate soap to some of these villages. It was amazing. We were able to see how the villages use the soap—some repurpose it, add fragrance, they might turn around and sell it or just use it in the village for themselves,” McLennan continued, noting that though the brand plans to move toward residential amenities as a way to become more sustainable, the partnership will move forward. HB