MARRIOTT READIES ADS FOR NEW BRAND: MID-PRICED SPRINGHILL SUITES COURTS BUSINESS TRAVELERS, FAMILIES

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Marriott Corp. rolls out an ad campaign next month to give consumers a peek at its SpringHill Suites apartmentlike hotels.

The national print effort seeks to introduce the 5-month-old chain to its target customers-business travelers and families with children who are willing to pay a little extra for more amenities and space.

The campaign, which includes three separate ads, kicks off April 19 in publications such as Newsweek, People, Success and USA Today. Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., is handling.

The budget wasn't disclosed; Marriott spent $56 million in measured media in 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

HUMAN SITUATIONS

Kathy Townshend, VP of the SpringHill Suites brand team, said the ads will "use human situations" to prompt consumers to say, " 'I've been there and this is a new solution.' "

SpringHill is positioned as a midprice option with room rates ranging from $79 to $99 a night. Rooms will be 25% larger than conventional hotels and offer multiple TVs and business hookups.

SpringHill joins the decade-long building boom of all-suite hotels, and is an attempt by Marriott to capture a larger slice of the suite and extended-stay market. The segment accounts for about 300 million room-nights a year, one-third of the U.S. hotel market, a Marriott spokeswoman said.

Marriott already has two chains-midprice TownePlace Suites and upscale Residence Inn-in the extended-stay market, typically defined as visitors who stay more than five days. SpringHill is aimed at so-called "transient" travelers whose visit averages two to four days.

The new chain will compete with such chains as AmeriSuites and Country Inns & Suites, as well as traditional chains such as Holiday Inn and Best Western.

"The idea is to let the customer know that there is a new option," said Ms. Townshend of the campaign.

NEW BUILDING PLUS CONVERSION

In addition to building, Marriott plans to convert its 27 Fairfield Suites hotels to the new brand. The executive said Marriott decided to relaunch Fairfield Suites as SpringHill, in part, to avoid confusion with its upper-economy line of Fairfield Inns.

Analysts are optimistic the new chain will find a niche in a market that could become oversaturated. Figures from Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette analyst Jake Fuller show 16 of 25 new hotel brands introduced in the past two years were in the all-suite or extended-stay category.

DLJ data show Marriott had the largest single share of the estimated $95 billion U.S. hotel and motel market in 1998.

David Loeb, senior lodging research analyst for Credit Lyonnais Securities, suggested one of SpringHill's biggest advantages might be its youth.

"Consumers definitely prefer new and shiny to old and tired," he said. "Consumers like to have as many conveniences as they can in their hotel rooms,

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