2012: The Year for Brand Acquisitions?

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The major hotel companies are talking more seriously about brand expansion. That can mean one of two things: These people are crazy, or things are finally and legitimately starting to look up.

Earlier this week at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, Vantage Hospitality CEO and founder Roger Bloss talked openly about his company's “appetite for new brands.”

“We have focused on multiple brands,” Bloss said during a press conference at his company's annual conference and convention. “We have a huge appetite to find an extended stay brand.”

Bloss wasn't alone on the hotel conference circuit this year. This fall, and also in the economy segment, Red Roof Inns CEO Andy Alexander said his recapitalized company was potentially looking to expand through potential portfolio or small brand acquisitions.

And Steve Joyce, Choice Hotels CEO, has long coveted a full-service brand, reiterating that again this year at his company's convention in Boston. With the unique mix of strong industry fundamentals and looming financial distress expected in 2012, this could be the year we see the return of some major portfolio and even brand acquisitions.

Plus we'll see at least one brand launch from one of the major companies if InterContinental Hotels Group follows through with its plan for a new select-service brand positioned under Holiday Inn Express. At their annual event in October, IHG execs didn't reveal any new details about the launch, but they made it sound as if it was definitely coming sooner than later.

Certainly the marketers and leaders of these companies know what the trade press likes to hear and write about, but this seems more than just talk. Here's hoping 2012 offers some big and brazen news and the distressing and depressing stories of the last couple years is really past.

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