Guess the brand-launch buzzword of 2016
 
Guess the brand-launch buzzword of 2016
15 DECEMBER 2016 8:15 AM

See if you know the one word that shows up in the description of every new hotel brand launched in 2016. 

It’s natural as the year draws to a close to reflect on highlights, whether those are news-headline highlights, event highlights, most-clicked stories, you name it.

I’ve found over the past few years in the hotel industry, however, the question that comes up most at the end of the year is, “How many new hotel brands launched THIS year?”

It’s true—the last few years have unleashed a new brand frenzy on the global hotel universe. When we put together our brand launch timeline in the middle of 2015, it was already clear that the post-recession years were all about those brands. 2014 alone notched 12 new brand launches (of which quite a few had first openings this year, so the track record’s not bad).

This year was no exception, and as I dug into the ol’ Hotel News Now archives to look at the brands that launched in 2016, I found one recurring theme—one word, actually—that came up in the description of every single one of this year’s new brand launches.

Can you guess what that word is? I’ll give you a hint: It’s not “millennial.”

The word is “lifestyle.”

Whether the brand came from AccorHotels, from Trump or from Hilton, whether the offering is luxury or economy, the unifying word for all of this year’s launches is lifestyle.

Here’s a quick rundown of the big global brand launches from 2016, and you’re welcome to search for yourself, but trust me: “Lifestyle” is somewhere to be found in marketing collateral for all of these.

Now quick: Define the term “lifestyle hotel” in 10 words or fewer, right off the top of your head, no thinking about it.

I bet that was not the easiest of exercises. I just tried it now here in the Hotel News Now newsroom, and for experienced journalists who are never at a loss for words, our team all had different responses and there were a lot of “ummmmmmms” and “welllllllllllls.”

It’s an interesting little experiment, because I’m sure we can all agree that the Age of Lifestyle is only just beginning. We’re never going to see a new hotel brand launch described as, “just a boring, cookie-cutter room that looks the same in every city.” No way. Just like three years ago everything was millennial-this and millennial-that, now it’s going to be all lifestyle, all the time.

Last year The Highland Group took a stab at defining lifestyle brands, calling them "prescribed franchised products that are adapted to reflect current trends." 

Earlier this year, Highland's Mark Skinner took another look at the segment, particularly its footprint around the country, and conculded that there's "plenty of room for the party to continue." 

Judging by this year's brand launches, lots of companies are interested in this party! 

So the challenge of course will be differentiation. Brands announced in 2014, for example, are just beginning to open, so this is something we’ll be able to watch unfold.

And now my Scrooge moment: I’ve warned against it before and I’ll take this opportunity to do it again (wow, what a Scrooge am I?): I see dilution on the horizon!

If we’re not careful, pretty soon “lifestyle” is all going to look and sound the same, and then we’ll be right back to where we started.

What do you think of this year’s brand-launch buzz word? Let me know in the comments below, or you can email me at sricca@hotelnewsnow.com or find me on Twitter @HNN_Steph

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