Hampton Inns Cordell Speaks of Rebranding, Expansion Plans

Phil Cordell, senior vice president of Hampton brand management, Hilton Hotels Corp. spoke recently with CPNHospitality about the brands repositioning and expansion plans.CPNHospitality: Please talk about how many Hampton Inns will open this year, and what is your development pipeline?Cordell: We have 1,530 Hampton Inns and Hampton Inn & Suites open now, and we have 450 in the construction pipeline, which means either under construction or in design. We will open 150 hotels this year. We are in the midscale without food and beverage segment. We introduced the “Make it Hampton” initiative about four years ago, which introduced improved shower rods and new bedding. It’s really accelerated our growth. We are growing in Canada, Latin America, and Mexico. We have 25 hotels in Canada, and 15 in Latin America.The brand, when it started, was roadside properties, with exterior corridors. But we’ve become more of a presence in urban areas. We have eight hotels open in Manhattan, and hotels in Washington, D.C., Boston, Dallas, and Atlanta. They are more expensive to build, but we can also charge a higher room rate. So, a Hampton in a major city may cost $300 a night, while a full-service hotel would cost $450. We are able to build in many markets, from urban to a 75-room Hampton Inn that’s part of a mixed-use development. CPNHospitality: Have you added room features, or anything new, as far as room construction is concerned? Cordell: We are always innovating. A focus of our new development is Hampton Inn & Suites, which is a mixture of suites and rooms. That is 75 percent of our new development pipeline. There is a higher development cost, but owners also have the opportunity to charge a premium rate. CPNHospitality: What are Hampton’s international expansion plans? Cordell: We are expanding into Western Europe and the U.K. We are going to use the Hampton by Hilton name in these markets. There will be differences from the U.S. prototype. The guestroom will be 1/3 smaller, and there will be a shower without a bathtub. The room will have a plasma TV, and a sofa that can fold out into another bed. The hotels will also have a small food and beverage offering, a restaurant that will serve alcohol and food. The hotels will also have a “zoned” lobby, where one section will offer video games, while another area will be a place where guests can eat a sandwich. We are also going to put this concept in our Hamptons here, in our new-build hotels, and all of the existing Hamptons within five years. It’s going to be called “Perfect Mix.” From an ownership perspective in overseas markets, we are looking for owners who are willing to build a large number of Hamptons, so we can gain market presence. We want owners who will build six or more in a market. In the United Kingdom, we have two owners who have committed to build 25 or more. We also have entered into an agreement to franchise the Hampton by Hilton brand in India, to open 16 hotels there over a five-year period. If you count the number of one-to-five star hotel rooms in India, that number is about 100,000. Orlando, Florida has more hotel rooms than that.