OGUNQUIT, Maine -- Two Roads Hospitality, the new parent of
Destination Hotels and Thompson Hotels, outlined its branding and growth
strategy at this year's Leisure Travel Advisory Council, hosted here late last
month by the recently remodeled Cliff House Maine.
Two Roads oversees 92 hotels under the Destination Hotels,
Thompson, Joie de Vivre, Alila and Tommie brands. It is looking to add
properties to its Joie de Vivre boutique hotels, expand its Thompson lifestyle
brand to Asia and eventually bring its Singapore-based Alila resort group to
Plans to open its first two Tommie-branded hotels in New
York fell through earlier this year, but the company is slated to debut the
microroom brand in Los Angeles' Hollywood neighborhood in 2018.
Two Roads also used the Leisure Travel Advisory Council to
further clarify its growth goals to the approximately two-dozen members of its
hotels' management teams in attendance. And it delineated its expanded group of
brands to the 20-plus travel agents in attendance.
Marie Torres, Two Roads Hospitality's senior vice president
of marketing and branding, described Thompson Hotels as best pitched to the "casually
Peter Gamez, the company's vice president of global sales,
described the typical Joie de Vivre guest as "modern nomads."
"Anybody can hire a great designer and create gorgeous
hotels, but nobody talks about hospitality," said Niki Leondakis, CEO of
Two Roads Hospitality. "We're competing by knowing what business we're in."
The company, whose properties collectively generate about $2
billion a year in booking revenue, faces the challenge of unifying a group
brought together by three acquisitions within the past five years. San
Francisco-based Joie de Vivre Hotels merged with New York-based Thompson Hotels
in 2011 to form what would become Commune Hotels & Resorts. Joie de Vivre
principal and Hyatt scion John Pritzker then bought out the 50% share of
Commune owned by Thompson Hotels' founding Pomeranc Family and co-founder
Stephen Brandman. Commune Hotels acquired Alila Hotels last year.
Destination Hotels and Commune Hotels announced their merger
this January and named the parent company Two Roads Hospitality (in reference
to the Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken") in September.
Two Roads finds itself competing against an expanding group
of "soft-branded" four- and five-star hotel collections being
marketed and booked by the world's largest hotel companies. Marriott
International launched its Autograph Collection of upper-upscale and luxury
hotels in 2009, and other companies have since followed suit: Hilton Worldwide
with its Curio group in 2014, Starwood Hotels & Resorts (which Marriott
acquired in September) with its Tribute Collection last year and Hyatt Hotels
with its Unbound Collection in March.
Still, Two Roads, whose brands' histories date back to
Destination Hotels' founding in 1972, looks to gain market share via a
combination of customer loyalty and expansion and renovations -- recent
openings include the Beekman in New York and Thompson Seattle, and the Cliff
House is one year into its $100 million renovation and expansion project.
The company said that it won't shy away from repositioning
its properties when needed. For example, San Francisco's the Marker, which was
previously Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants' Hotel Monaco before being taken
over by Destination Hotels last year, has since been moved over to the Joie de
And with many of the larger hotel companies focusing much of
their marketing efforts on luring prospective guests away from OTAs and getting
them to book directly on hotel websites, Two Roads also looks to differentiate
itself from its larger competitors through its relationships with the travel
agent channel. It expects to upgrade its travel agent portal by next year.
"Just getting a better sense of the brands from the
Commune Hotels side was helpful to me," said conference attendee Keith
Waldon, founder of Austin, Texas-based travel agency/wine bar Departure Lounge.
He added that his firm does extensive business with Destination Hotels because
of its luxury-sector focus.
"We don't have a lot of history with Joie de Vivre, so
we gained some valuable insight" by attending the Leisure Travel Advisory
Council, Waldon said.