New hotel brands from Hilton, Marriott aim to cater to die-hard road warriors

A rendering of Project H3, a Hilton brand catering to travelers looking for affordable, longer stays. (Courtesy Hilton)(Hilton)
Business travel all but came to a standstill in the early months of the pandemic, but travelers whose jobs routinely require weeks at a time on the road largely kept up their routine. Hotel giants Hilton and Marriott both want their next brands to focus on those road warriors.

This week, McLean, Virginia-based Hilton announced a new brand it will pitch to developers, currently called Project H3, while it finalizes a trademark for the brand. It will appeal to what it calls the vastly underserved group of travelers looking for apartment-style accommodations for 20 or more nights.

Hilton said the brand will be in the lower midscale range, meaning affordable for longer stays. Amenities will include larger suites that will have efficient closet designs, multipurpose furniture, large bathrooms and a fully-equipped kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and a two-burner stove.

“Many long-stay guests never stopped traveling during the pandemic, especially within the lower midscale extended-stay segment, and we designed a product in direct response to this growing need,” said Matt Schuyler, Hilton’s chief brand officer.

Project H3 would be Hilton’s 22nd brand.

Bethesda, Maryland-based rival Marriott International also plans a new brand aimed at extended-stay travelers, but have released fewer details so far. It would be Marriott’s 32nd brand.

“Here in the U.S., we’re just a few weeks away from announcing a simple, modern, streamlined new-build, extended-stay product that has very basic services and amenities for those looking for longer stays at a midscale price point,” Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano said this week on the company’s first-quarter earnings call. “You should expect to hear more about that in the coming weeks.”

The extended-stay occupancy rate last year was 74.7%, according to the Wall Street Journal — citing hotel data-tracker STR — significantly more than the overall hotel occupancy in the U.S. of 62.6% last year.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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