In an earnings call last month, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said that Marriott began surveying U.S. Sheraton property owners to “better define brand standards and communicate how they can best be met”. Marriott will use this data to develop standards for what a Sheraton is and should be, and what guests can expect. Those underperforming will renovate, be sold, or changed to other brands.
The goal is to understand a common baseline or standard of performance for the Sheraton brand, and either improve those who are on the lower end, or have them exit the brand entirely. For those who have experienced Sheratons around the country, there is a wide range of quality, making it difficult for travelers to judge expectations. By bringing them all to standard, Marriott can “better delineate” from other “upper-upscale” brands such as Westin, Marriott, and Renaissance.
Sheraton is the second-largest of Marriott’s brands, only behind Marriott hotels, and even outperformed Marriott & Westin in Q4 RevPAR. This metric of revenue per available room only applies to guestroom revenue, and does not include other items that make up total hotel revenue such as restaurant or bar revenue, or events. The thinking may be that by having Sheraton stand out further from other brands, this metric will continue to improve.
Starwood previously targeted Sheraton for expansion in 2015. They planned a $100 million investment over three years to advertise and market the brand. Starwood also wanted a “visual identity” update both within the property and the Sheraton website, since both are dated. Starwood previously sought to increase the number of Sheratons as much as a third. However, the integration of Starwood into Marriott has changed all this. While the quality would most likely improve due to review of feedback and the development of standards, Marriott is looking to slim down the portfolio to fewer, better properties to best reflect the brand of Sheraton.
It will be an interesting next several months watching the news come out regarding Marriott and Sheraton. I have stayed at several over the years and found them to be just adequate. Sheraton performs exactly the functions I expect of a hotel as just a place to crash. I found Sheratons dated, with decent service, and nothing particularly special standing out. Don’t get me wrong, they were fine, and worth the points. Many are in remote or airport locations, costing between just 3,000 and 7,000 points per night. I look forward to these renovations and improvements, and hope that travelers can benefit from them soon.
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