Choice to Introduce Higher-End Brand

Choice to Introduce Higher-End Brand

Choice Hotels, parent company of Comfort Inns, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inns, Clarion, MainStay Suites, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inns, will soon launch a new brand they hope will make an impact in the upper-mid-price market.

The new brand doesn’t have a name yet; hotel executives refer to it as “Hotel Concept 2004.”The idea is to allow Choice, which is perceived by many as a budget-level product, to infiltrate the market currently held by Hilton Garden Inns and Courtyard Suites by Marriott.

The offering is slated to be launched in 2005, with about 200 of the all-suite properties opening in key cities around the U.S.

Key to the impact of the launch is the effect the new hotels will have on Choice’s frequent guest program, Choice Privileges. While it’s difficult to speculate, it would certainly make sense that the program would set awards for the newer hotels at a reasonable level in order to migrate higher end customers to them, and to attract newer members.

Which is not to say that Choice Privileges is suffering: On the contrary, 498,000 new members enrolled in 2003, up 50-percent from the previous year.

Almost 390,000 signed up in the first quarter of 2004.

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