Hilton recently interviewed us for input on their new TRU brand. Springwood has been one of the pioneers of this brand, so that wasn’t surprising. Our answers may someday appear in some Hilton promotional material, but YOU can see all of them below. Enjoy!
- What have been the biggest challenges in the midscale segment and how do you think Tru by Hilton addresses them?
Inconsistency has plagued this segment for decades. Guests are forced to play “reservation roulette” when they book a mid-priced room, and that simply isn’t fair. Years ago we managed a beautiful Comfort Inn in our hometown, but business travelers were reluctant to book there due to in consistency of the brand nationwide. We’ve seen no such hesitancy with TRU.
- Why did you decide to invest in Tru by Hilton?
There were many corporate room nights that we were leaving to other brands, because their budgets didn’t permit them to pay the minimum room rates at our hotels. With the TRU brand, we can compete for – and win – that business. By doing so, we’ll build greater corporate-booking loyalty to our local team and properties.
- What motivated you to bring a Tru by Hilton to your city?
See #2. The other reason is that quality hotel development sites are difficult to obtain. Both of our TRU’s are developed on smaller sites that others tried to develop, but they could not lay out a conventional select-service hotel with adequate room count to achieve the necessary return on investment. TRU is so compact that we were able to successfully develop both sites and make the numbers work, without shrinking the number of guest rooms. TRU is a godsend for hotel developers who may have passed over smaller sites in healthy markets. Now those sites can make sense.
- What are you most looking forward to for the Grand Opening of your property?
Too late for that. The cake was really good.
- Insight from our current owners helped mold Tru by Hilton into a brand that was “engineered by hotel owners.” Keeping this in mind, what has it been like to do business with Hilton?
We are blessed to participate in the Owners’ Councils for several Hilton brands, and we know that Hilton appreciates and acts upon “bottom-up” feedback. We’ve seen it first-hand. We know, for instance, that the TRU concept initially had no king-sized beds. Owners spoke up, and before the first TRU ever broke ground, there were king beds in TRU’s. There are numerous examples of this bottom-up design with TRU. The same feedback system works for Hilton’s other brands, as well.
- What has been your experience with Tru by Hilton’s turnkey model?
There have been several teething issues, and Hilton is working to solve problems as they crop up. We suppose this is normal for a new brand; we’ve just never been bleeding-edge developers before.
- Tru by Hilton has been identified as a brand with the fastest-growing pipeline in industry history. Why do you think that is?
See #2 and #8.
- Where would you say Tru by Hilton fits in your portfolio? What does it add?
See #2. The surprise has been the enthusiastic response to the brand by millennial travelers. The input we receive from them is “over the top.” One seasoned millennial traveler we spoke with compared our TRU to an Aloft, which we personally never expected to hear, and he was dead serious. Another was so excited about the TRU common spaces that he told us, “I am going to look for a TRU wherever I travel.” We do not ever recall this strong a positive response to a new hotel brand, and initial guest response to Home2 Suites was very strong.
- After speaking with guests and hotel owners, it’s clear travelers in the midscale segment want consistency. Given this feedback, why do you think Tru by Hilton’s all new-build hotel model will be appealing to owners and guests?
Hilton knows how to run a consistent brand, and they will be “on their game” with TRU because the stakes are enormous. We don’t expect much slack from Hilton on quality – for us or for anyone else. That’s just the way it has to be for the brand to succeed.