A Sterling Group brand consultant helped executives realize that they could put the Kimpton name in lights or, at least, in a loyalty program called Kimpton InTouch, without sacrificing the individuality of each hotel. "Without being too obnoxious about it, we tried to be very bold about putting our name in front of every guest," says Mr. Pinetti, senior VP-sales and marketing. Over the last year, membership growth in the 4-year-old loyalty program has increased 69%.
Kimpton's national reputation preceded its national branding. It promotes hotels as pet-friendly and entices with its specialty suites, such as its Chill Room in a D.C. property loaded with Sony electronics. "Instead of creating standardized rooms, they created a standard of service and facility rather than uniformity," says Bjorn Hanson, a PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant.