Choice Hotels Customer ExperienceThe Ascend Hotel Collection, part of Choice Hotels, continued its rapid growth in 2015. The hotels pride themselves on location-specific experiences, and build brand loyalty by staying true to the aesthetic and culture of the region.

Ascend Hotel Collection is a prime example of the “soft brand” positioning that has been gaining ground in the hospitality industry.

Rather than relying on a larger hotel brand, soft brands make their name as upscale reflections of the surrounding community, complete with unique customer experience. For example, Bluegreen Vacations Innsbruck in Aspen, Colorado is a very different experience from Tilt Hotel Universal/Hollywood in Los Angeles, yet both are members of the Ascend Collection.

The Ascend Collection opened 14 new hotels in 2015, including locations in Myrtle Beach, Orlando, and Niagara Falls. The growth is due in large part to the independent nature of the hotel aesthetic and staff. Guests are looking for local experts when traveling to a new city, and the customer experience at Ascend Hotels specifically targets this itch for exploration.

This kind of experiential marketing plays especially well with the Millennial generation. Moments, rather than tangible rewards, are a primary driver of Millennial behavior. Targeting this younger generation with unique, location-based customer experience will likely prove to boost profitability with the demographic.

Perhaps even more exciting than the brand’s 2015 hotel openings, Ascend has already secured its future locations. The group signed 37 new member agreements last year, ensuring continued growth for years to come.

“With the Ascend Hotel Collection we’re focused on growing a portfolio of distinctive upscale properties and places that rewards the curiosity of travelers seeking to shake conventionality, stimulate imagination and strengthen Choice Hotels Customer Experiencewell-being and social bonds,” Neil Cantor, Head of Ascend Hotel Collection, told Loyalty360. “As a hotel collection, we continually seek opportunities to support our Ascend properties in evolving their individual identities or essence to enhance travelers’ stay experiences, while still preserving the hoteliers’ operational flexibility and independence."

The future of Ascend Hotel Collection looks bright, and only time will tell how disruptive the soft brand movement will be for the hotel industry.

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