ROCKVILLE, Md.—Choice Hotels International announced that Comfort Inn will join Comfort Suites in implementing a 100-percent smoke-free policy beginning July 1, 2016, making Comfort the largest hotel brand in the United States to do so with more than 1,700 properties across the country.
“This smoke-free initiative is the latest in a series of bold steps the Comfort brand is taking to enhance the guest experience and deliver the needs of today’s business and leisure travelers,” said Anne Smith, vice president of brand strategy for Choice Hotels. “In weighing this decision, we looked closely at guest feedback and hotel performance after Comfort Suites properties went completely smoke-free in 2007 and contrasted that with findings based on similar research performed this year. We learned a lot about attitudes toward non-smoking policies at hotels and found that, not only have preferences for smoke-free environments continued to increase, but smokers themselves are more likely to choose 100-percent smoke-free accommodations. These insights could potentially offer hoteliers operational advantages such as better room condition and cleanliness, fewer customer complaints, and easier inventory management.”
This move comes closely on the heels of the Comfort brand’s recent unveiling of its new tagline—Rested. Set. Go.—which underscores the brand’s promise to keep guest wellness top of mind. As further support of the brand promise, the Comfort brand is rolling out lemon-infused ice water stations in all hotel lobbies as well as new additions to the Comfort brand’s complimentary hot breakfast which will include fresh, healthy options such as Greek yogurt, healthy branded cereals, and a selection of toppings such as nuts, granola, and dried fruit. Guests will soon be able to enjoy the new RAIO line of bath and hair products, developed specifically for Comfort hotels. Larger, plusher towels and new shower curtains are also components of the upgraded bath experience to meet the expectations of the upper midscale guest.
These enhancements to the guest experience are all part of the Comfort brand transformation. In the last 18 months alone, Choice Hotels and Comfort franchisees have invested more than $250 million into existing hotels. Moreover, nearly 300 properties that qualified to receive funds from Choice’s $40 million property improvement incentive announced in May 2013 completed the work by the end of 2014. These newly renovated hotels have been seeing solid gains across key performance metrics, including guest satisfaction ratings, RevPAR, and RevPAR Index. By the end of the year, nearly 600 hotel properties that didn’t fit the long-term direction of the brand will have exited the Comfort system since 2010. And a boom in new construction agreements aims to replace older, underperforming hotels with new, higher performing properties in those markets.