Destination Hotels, the largest operator of independent hotels in the United States, has unveiled a rebrand that includes a new name (formerly Destination Hotels and Resorts), programs, partnerships and a more unified visual identity. PAXnewsWest.com sat down with Carrie Drost, Destination’s director of public relations, to find out what the rebranding effort means for travel professionals and their clients.
First, can you give us some background about Destination Hotels?
Destination has been in business for 43 years. We operate 45 independent hotels, resorts and golf clubs in the United States, and we’re looking to expand into Mexico and the Caribbean. No two of those properties are the same. Each has a unique sense of place – we like to say they are diverse by design.
What is the reason for the rebrand?
We wanted to really define who we are. Consumers are familiar with our hotels, but not necessarily with the brand, so we saw a lot of opportunity for growth, stimulation and cross-promotion. We will sometimes learn a guest has stayed at two of our hotels, even in the same state, and have no idea they are part of the same collection.
What are the highlights of the rebrand?
We have a new logo and visual identity, and each property will now have a Destination co-branded logo. We have a new website to position the properties as a cohesive collection. We are also rolling out new partnerships, starting with NEST fragrances for in-room amenities.
Why is this the right time for a rebrand?
It’s a really exciting time for our company. Independent hotels are the darling of the industry right now, and there’s high demand – we’ve hit a tipping point. More travellers are looking for authentic, locally-inspired experiences. They’re “interested independents” who like guidance, but they want to experience the local flavour on their own. Over the last 18 months, we’ve worked to really crystalize who we are. Our properties all share a common thread, but they are also individually empowered to do their own thing. We want to make it easier for consumers to find our properties, which focus on that local guest experience.
Do you offer a loyalty program for guests, and will it be affected by the rebrand?
Our loyalty program, Destination Delivers, has 850,000 members. It’s never going to be a points-based system, because that’s not what our guests want. They’re not points junkies; they want to feel like VIPs. Members get a welcome amenity, late checkout and room upgrades. Destination Delivers guests are our best customers, so we want to grow the program. Reimagining the program is a priority for 2016 to make it even more compelling.
Will the rebrand affect how you work with travel agents?
Travel agents are critical for Destination – we rely on them a lot. We already have some resources for travel agents (at destinationhotels.com/travel-professionals), and we will be launching a travel agent portal.
Learn more at www.destinationhotels.com.