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Cross-branding: Friend or foe?



We’ve often heard that hoteliers dream of being sponsored by well-known brands; it’s a topic that has come up on the numerous occasions that our design company has participated in co-branding exercises. But since our office is in Germany, I must admit that I don’t know anything about cross-branding in America. Maybe it works differently; it would be very interesting to learn more about how partnerships between hotels and lifestyle brands function there.

In Europe, it is very common for spas to be named after the cosmetic products used on the premises. It is also not that unusual for hoteliers to create a suite with a theme inspired by local products or, for example, a musical style. Nonetheless, it is still rare for hotel operators to collaborate with major brands on a concept for an entire hotel.

Celebrated fashion houses continue to be a strong focus for hoteliers when they endeavour to create a brand, since the association allows them to benefit from a famous label while giving operators the chance to sell a lifestyle and a feeling – not just a bed. Missoni, Armani, Bulgari and Versace have gone so far as to allow the use of their names for the title of a hotel; fashion icons like Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Lacroix have also designed hotels and permitted their names to be used for marketing purposes.

But cross-branding exists with “normal” brands as well.

Volkswagen introduced its small car, Fox, by opening a hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, with rooms individually designed by artists. But then — the other way around — when creating a hotel at its factory site in Wolfsburg, Germany, (a project in cooperation with Andrée Putman) the company used the brand recognition of Ritz-Carlton to show the world that the brand “Volkswagen” had become more serious about luxury cars.

We also designed the first “Golden Arch” hotel in Switzerland.

When looking at the design, it is obviously a McDonald’s hotel but, as it turned out, only two of these properties ended up being built in Switzerland. (We had anticipated the number might grow to be as high as 2,000 worldwide.)

Trying to analyze the positive and negative effects of cross-branding on both hotel operators and the associated namesakes would result in a never-ending blog. While I am sure that it all comes down to creating positive experiences for guests through a quality product and a high level of service, it is also not automatically assured that the promise of a strong brand will lead to a successful hotel.



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