Homewood Suites is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and Bill Duncan couldn’t be more proud of the brand. On Monday, J.D. Power listed Homewood Suites among its 2014 Customer Champions, and HSMAI recognized the brand last month for its military marketing and dual-brand trend campaigns with two platinum Adrian Awards for public relations. Homewood is also gearing up to open its first hotel in Manhattan this spring, as well as properties in downtown Chicago and Miami/Brickell later in the year. As global head of brand management for Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites, Duncan is passionate about the extended-stay hotel segment. “To me, it’s the grassroots of service,” he says. “You really get to know your customers because they’re staying with you for a bit of time. If you love to serve and you like to execute a successful guest experience, this is a tremendous segment to be a part of. I call it the servant’s heart.”
What achievements are you most proud of in Homewood’s 25 years?
There are a couple of key things. First, I think the fact that the esteem of the brand is so high—with these designations we’ve been given through J.D. Power and the J.D. Power Customer Champion award—is a momentous recognition for a brand that’s been able to keep taking care of the guests our mission, spreading that light and warmth of hospitality for 25 years to some of the highest levels in the industry, no matter what segment or category you’re playing in. To me, that is really a significant achievement. The other part is continuing to be relevant from a development and growth perspective while still keeping our key early pillars or brand essence alive and well. So we’re seeing as we’ve grown, starting from office suburban to moving into a higher degree of urban adaptive reuse, Homewood has been the linchpin in our dual-brand strategy that’s going like gangbusters for us and working extremely well. People are just incredibly encouraged by where we are and where we’re going.
All Homewood properties will complete the brand’s Take Flight design update by 2018, so I imagine there is a lot to look forward to in terms of results?
It really is an exciting time for the brand, with great growth happening and performance is strong. The brand refresh program is helping some of our earliest hotels stay up to date and relevant. It’s designed to be very intuitive as it’s deployed into the field. Our new hotels are opening with all the elements of Take Flight and as existing hotels come up for their renovation, they use that approach. We also have deadlines for certain elements that roll out over the course of the four years, so by the time we hit our 30th anniversary, we’ll all be in lockstep from a product perspective.