Vantage’s Signature revival puts new twist on old brand
Vantage’s Signature revival puts new twist on old brand
08 APRIL 2016 8:44 AM

Vantage Hospitality Group is reviving the Signature Inn brand with a design-forward style and interior- and exterior-corridor options for owners. 

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—It’s been awhile since the United States hotel industry has seen a design-forward exterior-corridor hotel brand, but that’s all part of the appeal for Vantage Hospitality Group’s new economy Signature Inn concept.

The company wants to put a new twist on an old brand with Signature Inn. The goal is to attract owners and developers who are looking for products that are economical to build and operate, but have a more modern look and feel, said Vantage CEO and President Roger Bloss.

Bloss said many Signature hotels, including new-builds, may have exterior corridor designs, which make them an appealing conversion play and a good option for travelers who look for that feature.

It’s all part of the brand’s history and its future appeal, Bloss said. Vantage acquired the Signature Inn name during its 2014 purchase of America’s Best Franchising’s core brands. Signature Inn had traditionally been a midscale brand centered in the Midwest, but it was inactive at the time of the acquisition.

Bloss said the brand’s new design and standards are intended to help owners push rate but still operate economically.

The company has established a set of new brand standards that were designed around flexibility, said Jordan Langlois, VP of brand management for Vantage.

“We’re taking a very different approach with brand standards by creating categories,” he said.

Categories that Signature properties must have include: fitness and health; social lobby space; and an outdoors category. Owners can then choose from a broad set of options to fulfill those category requirements.

Langlois described it like a menu. He cited the health-and-fitness category as an example: “We’ll provide a list of possible solutions (to satisfy that category), like an on-site gym, or maybe the property is next to a 24-hour fitness center, or wants to provide equipment, that sort of thing. Owners pick from the menu based on what is best for their price point, their location and their target customer. They get to pick what gives them the most ROI.”

The company paid a lot of attention to interior design and technology with this relaunch. The initial fee package to franchise the brand includes consultations for architecture, design and technology.

“We send our architect all of the images of your hotel and the square footage, and he comes back with the best value-engineered way to do it,” Langlois said. “Then we send a designer, and owners can pick from any of our vendors that they like.”

Interior design options include modern art, engineered-wood casegoods, upgraded lighting and seating, and more.

The company also will offer more tech-forward training, available in short snippets at the front desk all day for employees who are coming and going. Other technology amenities will include mobile check-in, which can help properties with limited staff manage 24-hour check-in.

The new logo allows owners to personalize their hotel, or add their own signature, as Bloss puts it. Owners can choose the standard “Signature Stay” wording, or customize the logo with any variation they want, like “Signature by Vantage,” or “Signature Hollywood,” depending on what the owner wants to emphasize.

Same goes with color. Owners can choose from a palette of color options for the logo.

“We built this (brand) for owners. The owners will know how to build it for their customers,” Bloss said.

Who and where?
Bloss had high hopes for reactivating the brand with a new appeal, specifically targeting current Vantage franchisees looking to reposition an existing Americas Best Value Inn or build something new to reach a different market or audience. Bloss said costs to develop or convert to a Signature hotel “will be a little higher but in the same ballpark” as an ABVI property.

Bloss shared details with HNN during a break at the Asian American Hotel Owners Association national conference in March. He said the audience there is one that has shown great interest in the brand.

In addition to attracting current Vantage franchisees, Bloss said another goal is to attract a new generation of hoteliers.

“We developed this brand for the owners who told me they wanted it,” he said. “It’s something for the next generation of hoteliers. They can put their signature on it.”

As of late March, the company had 20 Signature deals signed, six of which will be new-construction hotels. Three of those signed deals are in Los Angeles and one is in San Francisco. Bloss said destination markets will be part of the brand’s growth plan.

“I see these doing well in Fort Lauderdale (Florida), in Las Vegas, all the gateway markets,” he said. “I don’t see it necessarily resonating strongly in that 200-miles-between-somewhere-and-nowhere stretch where people just pull over for a room.”

Signature will grow via new-build and conversion, a fact Bloss said will help it compete with similar design-forward brands like Glo by Best Western and Tru by Hilton, which are new-build-only brands.

While Bloss said he sees this brand growing to a large footprint, he emphasized that “it’s not about how fast we can grow; it’s about how cool we can grow.”

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