Announced at its franchisor’s 58th Annual Convention in LasVegas, the first-ever Comfort hotel to feature the brand’s entirely new design package is scheduled to open next month—the Comfort Inn & Suites hotel of Spokane Valley, Wash. As the first hotel to boast the new Comfort design, the recently-converted Spokane Valley Comfort Inn & Suites hotel replaced all of its existing furniture, fixtures, and equipment to incorporate the new Comfort Truly Yours prototype design package.
After announcing a completely new design for the Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites brands at last year’s convention and an aggressive new Redefined & Redesigned strategy for the Comfort brand franchise family this past January, it’s time to check-in on the Comfort brand’s strong momentum. The new Truly Yours Comfort hotel prototype was designed using feedback from more than 1,500 guests, which showed that overall intent to stay nearly doubled for consumers in response to the new Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites designs* and that guests are willing to pay significantly more on average per night compared to the current design.** More than 100 Comfort properties have already began implementing elements from the new design package.
Also announced earlier today at this year’s Convention is the rollout of the Comfort “Your First Impression” brand program. This program will take the guest’s first impression to a new level, including new signature front desk experiences and new uniforms at every domestic franchised Comfort location within 2012—that’s more than 2,000 new front desk areas and more than 40,000 hotel employees sporting upgraded new uniforms by the end of this year. The front desk experience for guests will feature a redesigned “welcome wall” incorporating a reception desk and stone backdrop with soft integrated lighting.
The Your First Impression program is part of the brand family’s overarching strategy to refresh and redefine, including removing hotels that do not meet guest satisfaction standards, refreshing existing hotels, and adding new construction prototypical hotels—all scheduled to be complete by 2015.
“This four-year plan was designed to make the Comfort name an even more valuable asset for all of our 2,000-plus hotel owners,” said Christina Williamson, senior director of brand strategy for Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites at Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH). “Our goal is to make Comfort more competitive, more consistent, and more contemporary.”
In 2011, all Comfort hotels began featuring the upgraded Your Morning Breakfast, including hot items and new flavored waffles. The new breakfast program has led to significant increases brand-wide for all measured areas of guest satisfaction relating to breakfast. With more than 2,100 open hotels in the Comfort brand family, it’s estimated that more than 15 million waffles will be made at Comfort hotels in 2012. Stack them up, and that’s a pile of “Your Morning Flavor” more than 40 times taller than Mt. Everest.
By the end of 2013, the Comfort brands’ “Truly Yours” bedding program will upgrade more than 234,000 beds and nearly one million pillows, giving every guest a choice of soft or firm pillows. Comfort continues to raise the bar in guest satisfaction. In January, Comfort increased its standards for guest satisfaction, now holding all hotels to a higher level of satisfaction, and announced the aggressive stance that it is prepared to remove up to ten percent of hotels from the Comfort Inn brand over the next few years in order to achieve its new standards.
Comfort Suites continues its plan to appeal to the tech-savvy business traveler with the Your Suite Success program. The Your Suite Success in-room recharge station will be a featured amenity at every location by June 1st, supplying convenient access to outlets and USB ports in more than 47,000 rooms. In addition, Comfort Suites hotels are upgrading fitness centers and adding items for sale that are popular with business travelers.
“Comfort continues to be a truly iconic global brand in the hospitality industry, having served travelers for decades,” added Williamson. “We’re working to ensure the brand is the first choice for travelers and developers worldwide for many years to come.”
As of the end of last quarter, there were 2,747 Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites hotel properties open or under development, representing more than 200,000 guestrooms, throughout the United States and 20 other countries and territories.