Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Hilton Latin America brand strategy: sound English

A short while back, IP Tango reported on the expansion of the Hilton Garden Inn franchise into Costa Rica. It now seems that this was not an isolated brand expansion but part of a wider strategy. In "Hilton Gets Aggressive in the Caribbean and South America" by William Ng, the author writes:

"Hilton Hotels plans to quadruple its presence in the Caribbean and Latin America by adding 150 properties over the next five years. The company currently has 51 properties in the region, with 42 more in the development pipeline, but it is looking to ramp up.

... Hilton is banking on success in the region through brand mixture.

The comprehensive plan targets four areas: Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America. In the Caribbean, Hilton said growth will be through slotting "focused-service" brands Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn at commercial centers like San Juan, Trinidad, and Nassau, as well as through implementing luxury properties at high-end mixed-use developments in the Turks and Caicos, Lesser Antilles, and Bahamas. .... 17 properties will be introduced in the region through 2013.

In Mexico, Hilton's existing portfolio count is 19, and it will add 60 more throughout the country, covering large, capital, industrial, and border cities in 31 states. Hampton and Homewood Suites will be in play particularly; 20 now in the pipeline include Homewood hotels in Monterrey, and Hamptons in Guadalajara, Los Cabos, Cancun, and Tulum.

Hilton's strategy in the nascent Central American market, where it has seven hotels, will be to add 23 mostly Hampton and Hilton Garden Inn lodgings. The hotelier wants to forge alliances with local developers on multi-property deals in the region's big locations, namely Liberia, Panama, Leon, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica—where it recently debuted three hotels and resorts. But there also are upper-end market developments: a Conrad in Honduras, a Doubletree in Panama, and an Embassy Suites in Costa Rica.

Brazil, due to its "size and strength," is the linchpin in Hilton's South America eye. The company's regional headquarters is in Sao Paulo, and it will focus on that city, plus Rio de Janeiro and secondary cities such as Brasilia. Hotels in gateways Buenos Aires, Santiago (Chile), Lima (Peru), Bogota (Colombia), and Caracas (Venezuela) are planned. There will be 50 introductions on the continent.Initially, development will be concentrated on Hilton Garden Inns and Doubletrees, in mid-market and conversion opportunities. ...".

Branding and marketing experts may wish to make their own assessments of the Hilton strategy and forecast its likely outcome. One thing is notable, however: Hilton's brands are all English-language and would appear to be addressed to the Anglophone traveller or tourist. In how many sectors other than the hotel sector can successful branding be made to depend on ignoring the local element of the market?

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