SRS Embraces the World

Brand clarity is probably the most crucial marketing tool in today's lodging industry. It was one reason the former SRS-Worldhotels changed its name to Worldhotels at the end of January. The 500-property, 70-country sales, marketing and distribution organization started 35 years ago as a reservations service for Steinenberger Hotel Group. While Steinenberger is still a client, the system's reach, coverage and services extend well beyond that legacy.

“We provide sales, marketing and distribution, but in reality we've been closer to being a full-scale brand than just a res service,” says CEO Michael Ball. “The name change and our new logo complete the process.”

The name change also allows Worldhotels to target growth in specific regions — such as the Americas — without fighting the perception that it is primarily a Europe- or Asia-focused company.

Under former Carlson executive Tom Griffiths, the Americas region gained 20 new properties last year. He plans to continue targeting independent full-service properties looking for a flag as well as “refugees who are looking for an alternative to the long-term commitments of other brands.

“We view the relationship with our members as a partnership,” says Griffiths. “And whereas the traditional brands take a percentage of the gross in royalties, our fees are based on the business we produce for our members.”

The company recently opened an office in Phoenix to focus its growth efforts on the West Coast. While Griffiths is committed to expanding in the Americas from its present 80-plus properties, “we must do it with discipline. We'll only add the right hotels in the right destinations.”

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