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Eric Danziger Outlines Hampshire’s New Strategy

Eric Danziger Outlines Hampshire’s New Strategy

A few months into his new role as president and CEO of New York-based Hampshire Hotels Management Eric Danziger is a ball of energy (read more in Lodging’s November issue). He mapped out a growth strategy in three months, went on a hiring binge, and is creating a completely new company culture. “We’re a speedboat—we’re moving fast,” says the former president and CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group. The new Hampshire will have seven business lines: five branded and managed hotels, as well as third-party management and asset management. Here’s how the brands will shake out:

Brand: 5-star luxury, to be named
Current locations: The Chatwal in New York City
How it will grow: Initially new builds but has conversion potential
Approach: “The Chatwal does a great job, and it’s a wonderful hotel. There’s no reason why we wouldn’t create a brand in the five-star luxury space, but the name will change. It was applicable when [founder] Sant [Singh Chatwal] built that hotel, but it’s not applicable for a hotel company strategy.”

Brand: Dream
Current locations: New York City (two), Bangkok, Cochin, and South Beach
How it will grow: Mostly new builds but also has conversion potential
Approach: “The way I describe Dream is pretty simple. It is an upper-upscale lifestyle hotel where people want to be seen at a scene. It’s a happening place, with heavy food and beverage and lots going on late night.”

Brand: The Time
Current locations: One in New York City
How it will grow: Largely conversions, some new build
Approach: “The Time hotel is under complete redesign by David Rockwell, and we’re going to make that a brand. The brand is in the upper-upscale lifestyle space also, but it’s more refined, elegant, and sophisticated. It has great food and beverage, a great restaurant, and a big bar, but it’s not a scene.”

Brand: 3-star lifestyle, to be named
How it will grow: Almost all conversions
Approach: “I believe every consumer, every hotel user, should have the opportunity to be in a lifestyle environment, no matter what segment they’re in. I feel the three-star segment is very homogeneous. The reason there is so much churn—a Crowne Plaza becomes a Wyndham, a Wyndham becomes a Sheraton—is because they are fairly interchangeable. I think both for owners and customers, they should have the opportunity to have a lifestyle product even in that segment.”

Brand: Night
Current locations: One in New York City
How it will grow: Largely conversions, some new builds
Approach: “Night will be the same kind of [lifestyle] strategy in the limited-service and select-service segments. I have no beef with Best Western or Holiday Inn, but philosophically, maybe there’s a lifestyle component that could go to that kind of hotel that is more relevant to more consumers and owners today. Instead of competing with so many of those hotels that are the same, they can have a different product.” (Note: The relationship between Hampshire and Wyndham on the Dream and Night brands will end this year.)

Danziger is putting a strong emphasis on the lifestyle segment, which he sees as fun, cool, and unique. “Oftentimes, hotel companies talk about wanting to create a home-y feel in their hotel, or make you feel like you’re at home,” he says. “I have the complete opposite view. I think that travel is hard, so why in the world would you want to experience your bedroom? Wouldn’t you want to experience something different and unique and make an experience out of travel instead of looking at a residential hotel? We focus on an entirely different place in both design and concept of execution of service.”

In time, some of Hampshire’s brands will become franchisable, he says. “The strategy is for us to raise the children until they get past walking and then become franchisable.”

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