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Picking Up The Tempo

Hilton Launches New Upscale Lifestyle Brand For Modern Achievers

Friday, January 17, 2020
Dennis Nessler
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Acknowledging that timing is everything, Hilton decided it was ready to launch its newest brand yesterday as it unveiled Tempo by Hilton, which the company describes as an upscale lifestyle hotel geared toward ‘modern achievers.’

At an event held in New York City, Hilton rolled out to the media and existing owners the new flag, which already has some 30 committed projects, according to Phil Cordell, the company’s global head of development. He added that the company sees the potential for the brand to eventually grow to some 500 properties.

Hilton president ad CEO Chris Nassetta underscored the importance of the launch while referencing the company’s 100th anniversary last year. “We couldn’t let 2019 be outdone by 2020 so we’re starting it out with a real bang and the introduction of our latest and greatest brand,” he said.

Nassetta provided some color on the brand’s ethos.
“Tempo by Hilton is giving customers what they’re yearning for which is a very elevated experience from a product, service, and f&b point-of-view but at a very affordable price,” he explained.

Cordell, meanwhile, elaborated on the name Tempo, which he described as “helping customers maintain the rhythm of their life when they travel so that we don’t interrupt.”

According to the company, the “approachable lifestyle” brand is aimed at the rise of a new class of modern traveler, one that is ambitious, highly discerning and constantly looking for ways to improve both themselves and the world around them.

This group represented a “glaring white space” in the market and the company subsequently developed what it describes as a thoughtful, yet elegantly designed lifestyle hotel, according to Hilton.

Cordell further pointed out these guests are not road warriors but rather someone who travels 12 to 15 times a year and, as such, “has some expectation of what the travel experience should be for them.” He went on to define the brand as being “non-prototypically typical.”

Cordell described three points of emphasis for the nascent brand as being “thoughtful in design, inspiring and within reach.”

The newest entry represents the company’s 18th brand and Cordell indicated it would fall between Hilton Garden Inn and Canopy within the Hilton family of brands. He added the company expects the brand to generate a 15 to 20 percent rate premium versus Hilton Garden Inn.

He elaborated on the potential appeal for owners. “A lot of our owners are select-service owners today and having the opportunity to take a half step up to Tempo is a really good thing for them. As we’ve designed Tempo we’ve tried to be very positive and focused on ensuring that we stay on a very efficient operating model for owners and that we price it in a way also that’s appealing to guests,” he said.

The brand will be built primarily through ground-up projects as Cordell noted it didn’t lend itself to prototypical conversions, particularly by the nature of its guestrooms. He did point out that some adaptive reuse projects could be considered.

In terms of markets, the brand will be targeting urban and “suburban urban” markets or a “second ring that goes around cities,” according to Cordell, who pointed out it needs to have some infrastructure around it particularly as it relates to food & beverage.

Some of the major cities already slated for locations include New York City, Dallas, Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, and Washington, DC.
In addition to the 30 committed projects, Cordell noted the brand has another 30-plus “working projects” giving it a pool of some 60 hotels.

Although Cordell said it was hard to pin down development costs as they vary widely by market, he did note it was definitely in the “upper-upscale range” comparing it to brands like Hilton Garden Inn and AC Hotels by Marriott that are located in similar locations.
Development opportunities are being offered exclusively to existing Hilton owners initially before the brand is opened up to non-Hilton owners.

“All are core owners who we’ve known, who’ve developed with us and who also have the kind of entrepreneurial spirit to think creatively and outside of the box,” said Cordell.

He stressed the importance of feedback from owners in helping develop the brand, in addition to the extensive consumer research with more than 10,000 interviews.

“One of the things that’s made this brand really cool is not only did we involve guests from the very beginning but also certainly involved a number of owners from day one. So by engaging them in the process you end up with a core group of owners who are really energized about the concept because they’ve had an opportunity to have their thoughts incorporated into how to make it the best it can be for both guests and owners,” he said.

The brand is taking what Cordell called a “bookends of the day” approach to food & beverage with a casual counter café featuring breakfast items and a separate area in the lobby for a bar featuring beverage service, tapas and small snacks in the evening.

Cordell noted there are number of properties already through the entitlement process and zoning and he projected they could open as soon as 18-24 months.

Dennis Nessler    Dennis Nessler
Hotel Interactive®, Inc.
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