The Brancatelli File By Joe Brancatelli
My Motto? No New Hotel Chain Too Stupid
Thursday, October 25, 2018 -- Because the world doesn't have nearly enough hotel chains, Hilton this week announced another. And because hotel chains with exceedingly dumb names is a thing--Moxy anyone? Tru? Avid? Vib? M Gallery or just plain old W?--Hilton decided its new chain will be called Motto.

Motto? Yes, Motto! From the company that tried to introduce a brand called Denizen until it realized the guys they poached from Starwood to create Denizen had stolen the idea from Starwood chains like Aloft and Element.

I don't know what Motto is supposed to be. Someone says it's a transitional chain for folks who don't want to stay at a hostel but aren't adult enough to stay at a real hotel.

The marketing drivel in Motto's sizzle reel mentions an "elevated sleep experience." Do you levitate over the bed at night and housekeeping sneaks in and passes rings over your body to ensure that you are elevated? Is that a thing now?

You won't get much help from Motto's introductory statement, either. Although you may be interested to know that Hilton thinks a point of differentiation for Motto will be allowing guests "to split payments between more than one person at the time of booking, avoiding the sometimes-complicated math exercise during checkout."

Really? That's a thing? Hundreds of years of hospitality and no one has thought to allow split payments before! How could such a valuable marketing niche have been missed? We put a man on the moon, but no one thought of allowing split hotel bills until Motto?

I could go on for hours. Hilton piled on so many buzzwords, cliches and generational catchphrases that you can't stack them all in 163 square feet, the average size of a Motto guestroom. It is considered spacious because the Marriott Moxy in Times Square has rooms so small--150 square feet--that furniture must be folded and hung on the walls.

A few hotel executives I know insist I'm just an old fart who doesn't understand the new young, hip, "connected" guest. My standard answer to that is: Please show me the research that says new young, hip, "connected" guests don't want doors on their closets. Their usual response is: We'll have communal tables in the lobby and we'll sell 'em coffee in the morning and poorly mixed cocktails in the evening.

This, fellow travelers, is what passes for hotel creativity these days. By that standard, I can think as creatively as hoteliers. I'm hip. I'm "connected." I'm alert, I'm awake, I'm aware. In fact, here are some really stupid new hotel chains they haven't thought of yet because they aren't as "connected" as me ...

Sears has been in Chapter 11 for 10 days and I'm stunned someone hasn't already launched the Hotel Sears chain. Housed in soon-to-be or already-empty Sears locations in shopping malls around the nation, Hotel Sears would offer guests everything they want in suburban chic: access to fast-casual restaurants and the last vestiges of bricks-and-mortar retail. Who wouldn't want to sleep, shop, eat and park in the same place? And when the supply of abandoned Sears locations runs out, there are plenty of former Kmarts and Toys R Us stores to convert.

This hip, Italian-inspired hotel chain will be really unique and innovative, but grounded in practicality. Just like you order pizza in Rome--hold your hands apart to indicate how much you want--you hold your hands apart to let the front desk clerk know how much room you want. Exclusive modular walls will move on tracks to meet your specific needs. The open space design is "loft like," in tune with today's multi-purpose lodging environments. Besides, why buy more space than you need?

How has Jeff Bezos not entered the hotel space? He already sells everything you need to outfit a hotel room. Amazon Inns will perfectly reflect your digital lifestyle. You start with an app and an empty guestroom. The day before you arrive, you open the app, order exactly what you want--the bed, the desk, the chair, bathroom amenities, even the TV monitor--and it'll all be delivered to your hotel room by the next day. After you check in, you unbox everything--a special closet will hold the boxes, bubble wrap and packing peanuts--and use it for as long as you stay. When you're ready to check out, tap the app to print an RMA and return everything to Amazon.

What says warm, fuzzy, friendly and welcoming more than an extended-stay hotel that looks just like the TV show Friends? Instead of a port cochere, you drive up to a big fountain. Jump in after your long fight and refresh yourself. There's a replica Central Perk coffeehouse in the lobby and you can hang for hours without ever fretting about going to work. There are two types of spacious two-bedroom accommodations. The Monica for women has purple walls, faux French posters and a cute fake picture frame around the door's peephole. The Joey & Chandler for guys has overstuffed reclining chairs pointed right at the television, a foosball table and a full-sized refrigerator stocked with beer.

Marriott has built the anything-but-folksy Fairfield Inn chain around the folksy fantasy of J.W. and Alice Marriott's farm in rural Virginia. Know what's even folksier and friendlier? Walmart's policy of allowing RVs to park for free overnight in its parking lots. (Of course, it also means late-night revenue as RVers pop in to shop and grab supplies.) Why should Walmart stop at folks who drive their own? Why don't they move some RVs onto parking lots all over the nation and sell overnight accommodations to road-weary business travelers? Really, is an RV in a Walmart parking lot that much more dreary than your average Fairfield Inn across the road?

It's inevitable that the ride-sharing giant will expand to lodging. When your flight arrives at the airport, you order your Uber and the driver brings you to a big building with rooms that people aren't using. You check in to one of them, take a shower, do a little work, sleep in the bed. The next morning, you leave and your charge is automatically billed to your credit card on file. Oh, wait, that's just a hotel, isn't it?

This column is Copyright 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. is Copyright 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.