Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Branding in Hotels - why is a Days Inn in China luxury while in the US it is...well a Days Inn

Hotel franchise networks have been expanding through China and India at frenetic pace. I understand the desire to access markets that include 2 billion plus people and are expanding rapidly. [see a recent post on the Indian market here]. But I am confused by some of the brand choices that chains and franchise groups are making. For example the Wyndham hotels owned Days Inn is a well know old school highway motel. The brand has all you would expect from a solid 2.5-3 star motel. Clean rooms, robotic staff, vending machines, plastic cups in little paper bags. Traditional but thoroughly acceptable motel accommodations. The Days Inn mantra is "Friendly. Courteous service. Clean". Brand message is clear and delivery is consistent across the US.

But Days Inn have been in China for a few years now and have adopted a completely different model.

Here is a photo of a typical US Days Inn from Nowheresville Washington State. Everything about this says motel, and certainly says "Friendly. Courteous service. Clean"

But here is a photo of the Beijing Days Inn (and you can find more here). The first line in the hotel amenities for this property is "5 Star Rating". Here we have a brand synonymous in Hospitality for cheap but reliable and yet the emerging market launch is all about luxury, quality and amenities. I don't understand. Either all things American are viewed as inherently better in China (which I do not thing is true for one minute) or there is a mistaken belief that you can run a global brand with vastly different DNA in two different markets. I just think it is a mistake. Inbound business travellers are not going to look favourably about staying at a Days Inn in China and Chinese travellers to the US are certain to be disappointed and surprised if they are expecting the quality of the Chinese product out of the domestic US properties.

I don't get it. Do you?

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