by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | December 12, 2018
Dual-branded and even triple-branded hotels suddenly are dominating the hotel-development pipeline, and for good reason. By sharing the same footprint, back-of-the-house operations, amenities and, in some cases, even employees, they offer tremendous financial and operational synergies. 
In August of this year, Hilton, which has opened 85 dual-branded hotels and has several more in the pipeline, took brand collaboration one step further: The chain opened its first triple-branded property in Chicago. Adjacent to Wintrust Arena and with direct access to McCormick Place, this unique new hotel comprises the 187-room Hampton Inn by Hilton Chicago McCormick Place, the 184-room Hilton Garden Inn Chicago McCormick Place and the 95-room Home2Suites by Hilton Chicago McCormick Place, all under one encompassing roof.
Chicago-based White Lodging, which developed the first dual-branded hotel in the U.S. in 2005, has several full-service, dual-branded development projects in the pipeline, including two that will open in 2019 - an Autograph and Moxy combination in Louisville, Ky., and an Autograph and AC collaboration in Austin, Texas.
"As a developer, it's attractive to have a more concentrated footprint with multiple brands to attract a wider range of customers at the same location," said Chris Anderson, chief commercial officer for White Lodging. "As an operator, it affords us the opportunity to maintain the individual brand experience customers expect. It's also attractive for our associates, because it provides them the opportunity to see how different brands opeate without having to change companies, commutes or even buildings."
According to Portsmouth, N.H.-based global real-estate intelligence firm Lodging Econometrics, which tracks hotel-development deals, there are currently 244 properties under development on 192 shared sites. That includes both dual- and triple-branded deals. And, in the next 12 months, another 414 hotels on 281 shared sites are expected to break ground. 
"When you think about it, you can develop two properties with different room-rate structures and with different amenity packages, so you have the opportunity to capture different segments and guest profiles," said Patrick Ford, Lodging Econometrics' senior vice president of global development. "They are a great appeal for developers and hoteliers, and I expect we will see more of them going forward."
Currently, the majority of brand-collaboration hotels are in the limited-service pipeline, such as the Tru by Hilton and Home2Suites by Hilton Nashville Downtown Convention Center, on tap to open in the second quarter of 2019. But that's changing. In January 2019, Marriott is slated to open a 470-room, $120 million triple-branded hotel in downtown Nashville, within walking distance of Nashville Music City Center. It will comprise an AC hotel, a Residence Inn and a SpringHill Suites with six dining outlets and 9,000 square feet of shared meeting space.
"With the demand in the market and number of travelers currently attracted to the city, Nashville is the ideal location to introduce this new concept," said Gina Peper, vice president of sales and marketing at Atlanta-based Northpoint Hospitality Group, which owns the building. "Instead of one hotel brand with 470 rooms, this unique property gives us the opportunity to attract three diverse types of travelers, which broadens our guest base."
Meanwhile, in September 2017, White Lodging opened the 20-story, dual-branded 223-room AC Hotel by Marriott Denver Downtown and the 272-room Le Méridien Denver Downtown with 12,000 square feet of meeting space. "We're already moving in the direction of full-service, upper-scale dual brands," said Chris Anderson, "and I am certain you will see dual brands at the highest segment levels."
Such branded properties can be an attractive option for meeting planners. Instead of the traditional room-block formula, they can negotiate several different price points under one roof. "Planners know that everyone has their favorite hotels and brands," said Anderson. "Combining the brands makes the location a more flexible offering and, many times, at multiple price ranges."