WASHINGTON -- Hampton Inn launched a $100 million program that will
add products and services to the chain by the end of 2005, as part
of an effort to draw a greater distinction between itself and
Hampton Inn, which rolled out the "Make it Hampton" program at a
recent franchisor meeting in New Orleans, is calling the effort the
"single largest and fastest transformation ever undertaken by a
The program will impact everything from the look of the
properties to the background music in the lobby, the continental
breakfast and even the guest-room alarm clocks.
The 20-year-old chain, acquired by Hilton in 1999, said
approximately 120 properties per month are being transformed, and
all 1,300 Hampton Inn and Hampton Inn & Suites properties will
be updated by year's end. In addition, by the end of 2005, all
Hampton properties will have new bedding.
"We were the first brand to require irons and ironing boards in
every room, the first to require data ports, the first to require
coffeemakers, the first to roll out a 100% satisfaction guarantee,"
said Phil Cordell, senior vice president, brand management for
Hampton Inn and Hampton Inn & Suites.
"For the past 20 years, we have led the industry with those
incremental steps. They helped to create some differentiation. But
the challenge now is: What do we do to continue some
differentiation as we move ahead?"
To answer that question, Hampton Inn conducted "thousands of
focus groups and surveys," Cordell said.
That led the chain to look at "the hundreds of touch points that
guests experience when they stay with us -- from the time they pick
up the phone to the time they drive to the hotel -- and we
identified four key areas that drive the overall satisfaction," he
Those touch points were: owning the welcome, guest-room first
impression, continental breakfast and the chain's long-standing
100% money-back guarantee.
"Over the next few years, we are going to make 125 changes
[within those four areas] in each of our hotels," Cordell said. "If
you multiply that by the 1,300 hotels and the numbers of beds we
have, it is 4.6 million changes that we will be making before the
end of 2005 -- and many of those before [the end of] 2004."
Cordell said he believes the cumulative effect of the changes
will be to demonstrate to consumers that brands matter.
"Third-party providers like Hotels.com and Priceline.com tell
customers 'brand doesn't really matter; only rate and location
matter. Don't worry about the brand. Leave that to us and we'll get
you the best deal,' " he said.
But when hotel rooms become little more than a commodity,
Cordell said, "we go into a death spiral because then it becomes
only about price. ... If it is always about price and not about
something bigger than that, then as an industry, we are in
"There will always be a pool of leisure customers who are only
focused on price," he added. "But there is that service element
that customers are craving."
Among Hampton Inn's responses to those cravings will be:
• Entrance areas: New planter gardens at the main entrance of
the hotel and red welcome mats inscribed with, "We love having you
• Ambience: A signature compilation of travel-themed music,
"everything from the Beach Boys to rap," that will be played in
lobbies and other public areas.
• Front desk: Instead of the Hampton Inn name and logo, the wall
behind the front desk will reflect the city the hotel is located
• Hotel staff: Employees will bear name tags that include what
state they hail from "to create a personal connection with
• Elevators: Updated art and positive visuals.
•Rooms: Complimentary wired or wireless Internet services in
every room by year's end.
Hampton Inn also contracted with Timex to develop a proprietary
alarm clock that is simple to set and displays both the current
time and the time set for the wake alarm.
Breakfast areas are a big touch point. At least 97% of Hampton
Inn guests take advantage of the complimentary continental
breakfast. To enhance that experience, the breakfast offerings will
be refreshed and menus will be streamlined. Also, hot-food items
will be among the breakfast selections as well as a prebagged
breakfast to go.
To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].