Sheraton repositions to target Millennial travelers

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A "premium tier" of hotels is part of a drive to prove Sheraton is not just a stop for mom and dad,

While the 83-year-old Sheraton hotel brand won’t be shunning its existing customer base, it also wants to appeal to Millennial travelers, who tend to think of Sheraton as a brand for their parents.

Over the past year, Sheraton has been reviewing its products and brand. As part of its plan leading up to 2020, it announced Sheraton Grand, a new "premium tier" for its hotels. Sheraton has also announced will spend at least $100 million on marketing globally over the next few years.

According to Vincent Ong, senior brand director at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, superior "historical performance, destination, design, service and customer experience" separates Sheraton Grand hotels from other Sheratons.

"There are bound to be some Sheratons that are better than others. Those that already have an outstanding product and service can qualify overnight," Ong said. "Those that aspire to be will need to upgrade."

On the brand-marketing side, Sheraton has announced a new positioning called "effortless travel" that will be rolled out in Asia.

"We found that what people want when they travel is to be able to seek out experiences without obstacles and barriers," Ong said. "We’re making that the centre of our product and service goal for Sheraton."

While "seamless travel" might be seen as a hallmark of Millennials, Ong said it is increasingly what all travelers seek, in part due to technology and the availability of information. Disruptors such as Airbnb have also shaken up the hotel industry, but Ong sees that as a positive thing.

"It has given consumers more choices and a point of view about what they want from a given experience," Ong said. "And we believe that there will always be room for high-quality hotel brands that offer consistent and tailored service to people’s needs."

Ong also believes Millennials are no different from 55-year-olds when it comes to marketing. "Gone is the world of demographic marketing," Ong said. "You can’t look at income, background, etc. What does exist are expectations about brand, environment and overall consistency."

This article first appeared on


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