Fairfield Inn & Suites: Inside a Growing Marriott Brand
PHOTO: Shruti Buckley, vice president and global brand manager of Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott (courtesy of Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott)
Marriott International brands continue to make major strides in recent years.
That includes Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott.
Fairfield Inn & Suites is one of Marriott’s fastest growing brands, along with TownePlace Suites. In addition to adding 17 properties and 1,839 rooms from the first quarter of 2014 through the first quarter of 2015, the brand is planning on introducing about 280 more properties in the next few years, according to Shruti Buckley, vice president and global brand manager of Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott.
RevPAR and occupancy were also noticeably strong in the 2015 Marriott first quarter results. Fairfield RevPAR increased by 8.2 percent, year-over-year, topped only by Courtyard and TownePlace Suites in the Marriott collection. Occupancy shot up 2 percent to 65.5 percent, second only to Courtyard.
Fairfield, along with Courtyard and TownePlace Suites, all have one thing in common: They are limited service hotels. Oh yeah, and they’re all progressing rather nicely, too.
Also, Fairfield is currently focusing on destinations that have a growing middle class or are lacking established moderate-tier brands; namely, Asia, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Thailand and South America.
Buckley said Fairfield is benefiting from its franchise agreement with Marriott, an internationally recognized brand, as travelers in destinations such as Asia and Mexico seek mid-tier hotels (Buckley called Asian travelers “a very important segment”). In turn, Marriott is reaching a new consumer these days, compared to the luxury travelers the company has generally attracted in previous years with brands such as Ritz-Carlton. Fairfield’s average daily rate was just over $100 at the end of the first quarter this year, second-lowest among all Marriott brands (TownePlace Suites was the least expensive).
So, certainly, Fairfield is similar to Marriott limited service brands such as Courtyard and TownePlace Suites in terms of structure.
But what makes Fairfield different from any other Marriott brand?
It begins with the type of traveler Fairfield is targeting and ends with certain customer service standards the brand has recently put in place.
Fairfield recently conducted a survey as part of its National Amazing Month campaign. The survey found that American guests find it difficult to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle while on the road. Half of U.S. respondents said they feel balanced in their every-day lives, but only 35 percent said they feel balanced when they are traveling. On top of that, 47 percent said they sleep less, 59 percent said they eat less healthy, 57 percent work out less and 49 percent actually experience more stress while traveling.
It has led to Fairfield prioritizing a healthy and balanced stay for all guests.
“We found something very interesting as it relates to the Fairfield target guest: They are really focused on keeping their balance and maintaining their routines and their rhythm when they’re on the road,” Buckley said. “These are folks that travel the moderate tier and like that no-nonsense approach to travel. They’re really looking for value, but they also feel that travel is stressful because when they travel they engage in bad travel behaviors. They feel like they don’t have a lot of support when it comes to eating healthy, maintaining their fitness routine and getting the rest they need. And that’s where Fairfield has a really great opportunity.”
“At Fairfield, we’re going to help you keep your balance and momentum so you return from your trips feeling like you’ve never skipped a beat,” Buckley added. “What that means for the brand is an increased emphasis in providing healthy options at breakfast and in the market, elevating our fitness experience and ensuring that we have a room that’s designed for the guest so they use it in a way that makes sense for them, but also that it’s a quiet restful sleep so they feel energized the next morning.”
To that end, not only does Fairfield offer a complimentary, healthier breakfast, but the brand is also set to announce a new partnership with “a large, nationally-recognized fitness organization” in August, Buckley said. The partnership, according to Buckley, will provide more fitness options for guests, whether they want to work out in their room, in the hotel or in a “really great branded facility.”
When it comes to customer service, Fairfield introduced the Fairfield 100 Percent Guarantee last year. Essentially, Fairfield is guaranteeing that guests have a satisfactory stay. If a problem does arise, Fairfield is promising to resolve it immediately.
“(It’s) the promise that we’re making to each and every guest that walks into the door,” Buckley said.
For travel professionals looking to sell the brand moving forward, Buckley advised to stress the Fairfield 100 Percent Guarantee to clients, as well as key offerings such as complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi and flexible rooms (from standard king rooms to larger suites). It’s also worth noting that over 90 percent of the brand has been renovated or updated over the last few years, Buckley said.
Also, in terms of expansion, Fairfield is beginning to shift its focus from smaller locations to large, urban gateway cities such as New York City (including several hotels in Manhattan).
“That’s a new development over the last five to six years,” Buckley said.
Overall, Fairfield appears to be headed in the right direction.
“We feel like we’re really well rounded,” Buckley said. “We are so excited with the progress of the brand. The fact that we’ve been able to move the brand so much (in terms of financial results, growth and guest satisfaction) really has positioned the brand to be a huge player within the moderate tier.
“Our goal is to become the leader in the moderate tier.”
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