Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lexington Collection webcast

During a web-based conference this afternoon, Steve Belmonte, CEO and president of Lexington Collection, shared with the group’s hotel owners and members that he actually met Roger Bloss, president, CEO and founder of Lexington’s parent company Vantage Hospitality, when he served as a motivational speaker at Bloss’ conferences years ago.

When listening to his mid-year brand update, I didn’t doubt that fact one bit. Belmonte wasn’t short on vigor as he candidly and enthusiastically discussed Lexington’s momentum in moving forward on domestic and global expansion, marketing campaigns to build the brand and what’s in store for everyone as the date for Lexington’s next conference was announced for Dec. 8-10 at the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The live event, lasting well over an hour, was one that brought the Lexington figureheads together with the owners and operators of its hotels worldwide. International development was a key topic in the webcast, and one that is being taken advantage of both at home and afar.

For example, Belmonte pointed out that the dollar’s weakness against even just the euro might end up attracting business to the U.S. So, getting the Lexington brand name out through developments in foreign countries will bring a familiarity to the same customers when they travel to America, he said. Lexington is focusing its push on China, India, Eastern Europe and Canada. “The reason for that is the first three, the economies in those places are extremely strong. There is a dramatic shortage of hotels, and there is a crying need for brands,” Belmonte said, adding that Canada remains a major market for the U.S. and holds a strong hotel base.

While several projects are under way and in the works across those regions, here at home, Lexington is launching all-out marketing warfare through a variety of channels to build awareness of the brand to not only attract more members but also more customers. Lexington has plans to do everything from working more closely with online travel agents and reaching out to meeting planners to beefing up what it has to offer at upcoming tradeshows and implementing a public relations campaign to hit an assortment of Internet and print media.

What the effort has done so far appears to have paid off. Jordon Langois, VP of brand management, showed a 100-percent growth in reservations from January through June compared to those numbers in 2007, including a jump in reservations by 85 percent from last year through its website, www.lexingtonhotels.com, and a 250-percent growth in reservations made through its own call center.

Issues on tap for discussion at the conference in December will be premium bedding, TVs, wireless versus wired Internet access, clock radios, glassware and employee rate incentives. Any additional ideas from those who will be attending can be sent directly to Belmonte at sbelmonte@vantagehospitality.com.

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