Why Is Marriott Bringing the Delta Brand to the US?

A WSJ item last month, Hotel Operators Ready to Rumble Over Upgrades, caught my attention for surprising plans by Marriott to bring recently-acquired Canada’s Delta Hotels to the US:

Now, Marriott International Inc. wants a piece of this lucrative conversion market. In April, the company paid $135 million for Delta Hotels and Resorts, a Canadian brand with 37 hotels in that country, and is positioning it as a conversion brand in the U.S. Delta last month signed up its first U.S. hotel in Orlando, which had been slated to be a Crowne Plaza hotel, part of InterContinental Hotels Group PLC.

“We see this brand as a formidable competitor to DoubleTree,” said Noah Silverman, Marriott’s chief development officer in North America for full-service hotels. “Part of DoubleTree’s success we attribute to Marriott not having had a competing brand.”

and

Mr. Silverman said Delta will offer similar flexibility. Delta owners will be allowed to keep stucco ceilings (also known as cottage cheese ceilings), bathtub showers and in-wall air-conditioning systems. Marriott hotels must have mostly stand-alone showers, and won’t allow the ceilings or older air-conditioning systems.

Overall, Mr. Silverman estimates, hotel owners would pay up to 50% less to convert a hotel to a Delta compared with upgrading the property to the Marriott brand. “It’s a more cost efficient way for owners to get entry into the Marriott system,” he said.

Delta falls on the wrong side of the two types of hotel rooms in the US: in-wall air conditioners.

Marriott followed up with formal announcement of the Delta in Orlando to open December 2015. Loyalty Traveler and FlyerTalk picked over the news, noting this property and its air conditioners have flipped from brand to brand, recalls writerguyfl, “That hotel has been on the re-flagging merry-go-round of brands for years. If I remember the order correctly (reverse chronological back to 2001), it was the Crowne Plaza, Orlando Vista – an Ascend Hotel (Choice), Orlando Vista (independent), DoubleTree Club.”

Without the WSJ article I would have thought Marriott expected to profit from Delta’s Canadian base looking for a familiar brand on trips to Disney and warm weather. No mention of Canadians and I don’t have a sense of how much loyalty Delta attracts in its home country.

The Delta brand is dowdy. The logo needs a refresh as do the few properties I have seen. The one in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island commands a great location, though is bland, dark brick. Several years ago I stayed at Delta Toronto East on a Priceline booking, it was somewhere between pre-refresh Courtyard and current Fairfield, with less lighting and lots of dank. Others on their website look nice, particularly the resorts.

Why bring Delta to the US when there already is a major airline with that name? Marriott has no shortage of brands, 19 in all, just a shortage of ones that resonate or that I feel offer value compared to competitors. Stay at AC Hotels in Spain and tell me with a straight face that you want a repeat. Or find people who know the subtleties between Fairfield and Springhill. I am partial, though, to Residence Inns with their big rooms and ultra uncool happy hours. Odd, then that Mr. Silverman indicates a brand gap that Delta will fill. He is right in alluding that Doubletree is successful in branding, immediately the welcome cookie comes to mind, while for Marriott’s many brands, I think of maroon and oddly shaped, uncomfortable pillows.

Readers, does bringing Delta to the US make sense at all?

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  • Greg

    Like Mercury in relation to Ford it’s all about technicalities of distribution. In that case, dealer agreements, in this case franchise agreements.

  • Nope, all the Delta hotels I’ve ever been in (3 or 4 of them throughout Canada) have been thoroughly forgettable or unremarkable. They should fold it into an existing sub-brand, if anything, or let the few remaining properties stay their “own thing.”

    I expect much more Marriott/SPG shenanigans in the followings months. I was kind of excited for a Hyatt/SPG mash-up.

    Also, a blow for AMEX and a huge win for Chase – and would’ve been with either outcome (both Marriott and Hyatt have Chase co-branded cards).

    Curious to see what they cook up next!

  • Pablo

    The popcorn ceilings are extremely disgusting!!! Ahhh creeps me out even thinking abt them

  • john

    Delta is going to start flying to the United States?