The Autograph Collection is a Marriott concept brand based on the acquisition of independently operated upper upscale and luxury hotel properties in the resort, historic, and boutique hotel market segments. The Marriott branding may be present, but these properties are meant to appeal to the guest who desires a unique hotel feel distinctive from your average Marriott brand hotel.
From the Loyalty Traveler perspective I wonder if Marriott Rewards will establish a unique category of hotel rewards to accompany the Autograph Collection in a similar way to the separate, higher points reward tables for the Waldorf Astoria Collection of Hilton HHonors. The Marriott Rewards aspect of the Autograph Collection has not yet been revealed aside from statements these new Marriott brand hotels will participate in the Marriott Rewards hotel loyalty program.
Marriott states it is eyeing about 25 hotel properties globally to sign to the Autograph Collection in 2010. Marriott’s Autograph Collection looks to be a similar strategic move to match Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria Collection by aligning existing luxury resorts, historic hotels, and urban boutique properties with the Marriott chain in a move to cater to the high end market segment.
“I thee wed” is becoming a more common occurrence these days between independent hotels and major hotel brands. These aren’t exactly shotgun weddings, rather, more a marriage of convenience. Independent hotels are struggling financially with the recession and desire the brand exposure that comes with association to a major chain. The major hotel chains like Marriott (Autograph Collection) and Hilton (Waldorf-Astoria Collection) have the ability to provide a global marketing program and clientele of loyalty members to the independent hotel. And for Marriott and Hilton, rebranding is usually cheaper than building a new hotel.
Hilton launched their Waldorf Astoria Collection in 2006 and greatly expanded in 2009 with the addition of several resort properties rebranded from LXR Luxury Resorts and Hotels. The WA Collection has grown from 4 to 20 properties in the last couple of years. Marriott is playing catch-up and projects a similarly sized Autograph Collection brand.
The bottom line for the Marriott Rewards frequent guest with the development of Marriott’s Autograph Collection is more choice of high-end lodging to earn and burn Rewards points with hotels that may exude more individualistic character than your typical Marriott brand hotel.