News & Opinion | June 20, 2019 4:56 pm

Why Are So Many Retail Brands Opening Hotels?

Taco Bell isn't the only brand breaking into the hospitality business

The Taco Bell hotel is coming whether we want it or not.
The Taco Bell hotel is coming whether we want it or not.

Taco Bell raised plenty of eyebrows last month when the fast-food chain announced it would be opening the doors of its new hotel and resort in August. But the brand is far from the first to take a leap into the hospitality biz.

While “The Bell,” the Taco Bell resort that will take over the V Palm Springs Hotel for a few nights in August, is a bit of a departure from the high-end brands like Bulgari and Armani that are already operating hotels around the world, the fast food chain’s new project may be more than just a buzzy publicity stunt. According to the Washington Post, venturing into the hotel business is becoming an increasingly popular trend among brands from a wide variety of industries.

“Hotels are the new showrooms for retail,” said Chekitan Dev, a professor of marketing and branding at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. “It’s a dynamic, interactive, profitable showroom.”

Unsurprisingly, the living showroom model has attracted the attention of more than one furniture and home goods store. Upscale furnishings brand Restoration Hardware has plans to open RH Guesthouse in New York this fall, while West Elm hopes to launch its first hotel next year.

Luxury fitness company Equinox is also branching into the hospitality business with Equinox Hotels. The brand’s first hotel is set to open in New York next month, to which Equinox Hotels CEO Chris Norton will bring nearly three decades  of hospitality experience at Four Seasons.

However, as hospitality industry consultant Bjorn Hanson warns, not all brand-operated hotels boast such an impressive hospitality resume.

“I think most companies don’t appreciate all the moving parts that go into the complexity of managing a hotel,” he told the Post, urging travelers to thoroughly vet a hotel before booking and preferably stick to those affiliated with established names in hospitality.

Either way, brand hotels are now a thing, and whether you’re more into tacos or fitness, you can now sleep in their warm, caring, corporate embrace.

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