HB ON THE SCENE: Hilton launches Motto

MCLEAN, VA—In an event held at the company’s Innovation Gallery here, Hilton launched its 15th brand: Motto by Hilton.

Calling the brand a “micro-hotel with an urban vibe,” Hilton created Motto after evaluating the emerging lifestyle hostel model globally to understand the opportunity to enhance the shared-room concept. But, as it turns out, the company’s research found that travelers who choose to stay in hostels don’t usually do it for the opportunity to meet and room with strangers—often, they’re booking these spaces with a group of friends or members of their family.

And while hostels may have a reputation for being the accomodation of choice for the younger generation—think college students studying abroad or recent graduates enjoying a gap year—the brand isn’t targeting any specific generation.

Hilton’s Global Head of New Brand Development Phil Cordell said, “It’s not about a generation. We know there are others in this space who seem to sometimes focus more on a specific demographic in how they approach and deliver the guest experience. We think it’s broader than that. It’s about a customer who’s confident and connected. They have the spirit to explore—business or leisure—willing to accept trade-offs, but they want to stay connected to the consistency of a bigger brand.”

Motto is about four pillars: prime locations; authenticity; affordability; and flexibility. “It has to be in the right location,” he said. “These hotels are going to be urban core, city-center locations where a customer is willing to accept some kind of trade-off in their stay experience—in this case, a small room (on average 163 sq. ft.) with some really great energized public space. They are willing to make that trade-off for access to a great world outside of the hotel, including downstairs in the commercial space.”

He continued, “In terms of value, [it allows]…a traveler to make sure that they have a consistent quality experience, one that delivers on the basics that doesn’t bankrupt their ability to have fun or explore the local market.”

Cordell said that it was important to offer flexibility. “Although there are parts of the brand that are going to be prototypical—the room types, etc.—there are things that we built in the vein of flexibility, like linking rooms. Connecting rooms have been around for a long time, but the ability to interconnect those rooms and guarantee guests the ability to have a connecting room is not very common in our industry.”

Guests have the ability to link up to seven rooms among the brand’s room types..

Guests can link up to seven rooms among the brand’s room types: a queen bed with a bunk bed above it; a wall-hung system bed; or a queen bed. “It gives them the ultimate flexibility in how they use the space,” he said.

The rooms also have segmented shower and toilet stalls and multifunctional furniture that can be discreetly stowed when not in use.

They will also have Hilton’s Connected Room technology—which will allow guests to control features in their room (temperature, lighting, TV, window coverings, etc.) from their Hilton Honors mobile app.

Guests will also have the availability to split payments between more than one person at the time of booking.

The authenticity pillar is all about connecting with the local community. Cordell said, “It is about how we can have an F&B option that creates an environment for people to feel comfortable, doing their work or just hanging out with friends. It’s Starbucks meets the Cheers bar.”

Motto by Hilton’s F&B offerings will include fare tailored to the specific market.

There will also be a wellness room—approximately 300 sq. ft.—with cardio equipment and floor space. “That’s an expectation today,” he said.

When conversations around the brand began, they evaluated just how much to affiliate it with the Hilton name—and they went into the process with an open mind. “We tried to challenge ourselves to think differently,” he said. “We wanted the experience of an unbranded hotel in an environment that happens to be branded. It’s more about the importance of service—not necessarily Hilton-specific, but the spirit of hospitality.”

Motto already has deals in various stages of development in destinations around the globe, including Lima, Peru; Dublin; Savannah, GA; San Diego; Boston; and Washington. Construction will start in January 2019 on the 100-bed Motto by Hilton in Marylebone, London. The property is being developed by U.K.-based Dominvs Group, and is targeting a 2020 opening.

“We’ve deconstructed the traditional hospitality experience to create something truly fresh and exciting,” said Tripp McLaughlin, global head of Motto by Hilton. “This will be a global brand, heavily targeting the destinations where our connected and confident travelers want to travel to the most.” HB

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