Country Inns undergoes brand overhaul to attract millennials


Country Inns undergoes brand overhaul to attract millennials

The 500-location Country Inns & Suites chain is trading its folksy image for a sleeker look in a bid to lure the next generation of travelers—technology-focused millennials. The hotel chain is best known for its old-fashioned decor featuring plaid patterns, dark mahogany paneling, a wood lobby staircase and a homey fireplace but parent company Carlson Rezidor announced a plan to renovate hotels inside and out.

While the brand has seen consistent upgrades and regular renovation cycles, this is the first time in its 25-year history that it has been completely redesigned to include a new architecture, interior aesthetic and visual identity, including logo. The new Country Inns & Suites logo, which has been reinterpreted to evoke a more modern and sophisticated image, will be seen immediately, with a controlled roll out across the entire portfolio.

The updated hotel architecture and interiors will make the debut in the 4th quarter of 2013. They will feature a clean, contemporary look and feel that complements the new visual identity that combines warmth and comfort with the iconic design elements Country Inns & Suites are known for, including lobby fireplaces. The architectural design is a departure from previous generations of Country Inns & Suites and will allow the brand to expand in a greater variety of areas and locations, including more urban markets. The design will resonate with loyal guests, as well as today’s younger, technology-focused business travelers.

The update (and prototype for properties to be built) will give the lobby an open layout with more natural light, a contemporary looking fireplace and a lighter color palette. The iconic front porch will disappear, replaced by an outdoor patio out back with a fire pit and contemporary seating, said Aurora Toth, a marketing executive with parent Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

"We set out to be warm, yet modernized, with open, airy spaces and natural light," Toth told USA Today Hotel Check-In. "We didn't want to lose a touch of home."

“We are looking to the future and are making thoughtful changes that will allow us to grow our brand,” said Gordon McKinnon, EVP and CBO for Carlson. “It’s a natural next step to evolve into a product that appeals to a younger generation. But we will be fiercely maintaining our service culture and amenities that have built our strong, loyal customer base.”

Country Inns & Suites has partnered with celebrity interior designer, Genevieve Gorder to leverage her expert insights on the design needs of today’s consumers and reinforce the direction of the brand.

“Genevieve’s unique ability to add both style and comfort to living spaces translates perfectly to the guest experience Country Inns & Suites are known for—caring, consistent and comfortable hospitality delivered with a touch of home,” said Scott Meyer, SVP, midscale brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group said changes are necessary to make Generation Y and especially Millennials feel welcome.

"They're on the cusp of being very important," said Christine Barton, a partner at The Boston Consulting Group, who recently authored a study about the needs of Millennial travelers.

Millennial travelers will control about 50 percent of business travel spending on flights by 2020, and then will hold the lead for another 10 or 15 years, she said. Hotels catering to them must take specific steps, such as creating communal spaces equipped with quality Wi-Fi and a variety of seating options. They also want bar space as well as outdoor patio space, she says. In guestrooms, they look for outlets so they can plug in their devices anywhere—especially near the bed.

Earlier this month, Marriott International announced that it's targeting millennials by launching Moxy, a stylish budget chain in Europe being developed with the parent of retailer Ikea.