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What Hampton by Hilton's 14-Year Reign as the Top Hotel Franchise Can Teach You About Customer Service

The hotel franchise, in the top 10 of our Franchise 500, is marching into the future by paying attention to its customers' evolving needs and desires.

This story appears in the January 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Started Franchising: 1984 | Total Units: 2,824 | Cost to Open: $12.3M-$22.8M

Courtesy of Hampton by Hilton

Guests may not notice some of Hampton by Hilton's big changes of 2022 — but that's the point. "We continually balance the profitability for our owners with the comfort and happiness of our guests," says Shruti Gandhi Buckley, Hampton by Hilton's senior vice president and brand leader. For example, it rolled out a new top-of-bed program to improve the speed of linen changes and laundering efficiency. Guests experience the same level of service, but franchisees can now appreciate reduced costs.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

These kinds of detail-oriented upgrades, along with continued expansion that included opening its 2,800th location, helped the brand score its eighth appearance in our Top 10 (along with its 22nd consecutive appearance on our Franchise 500 list). It tops the Hotels & Motels category for the 14th consecutive year.

What else might guests not notice? That depends on how closely they're looking. Following a revamp of the breakfast menu, guests might not notice the "high waste" items like smoothies that are now gone — because who notices the lack of what they don't eat? But they'll likely notice new, seasonal items like pumpkin spice waffles. And they'll find what Gandhi Buckley calls a streamlined "bulk amenity program" in the bathroom — which is to say, the tiny disposable bottles of hair care products are being replaced with large, reusable containers. The change reduces waste, saves franchisees money, and enables Hampton to improve the quality of the products it stocks.

The hotel industry is rebounding in a post-pandemic world, and Hampton by Hilton has been well-positioned to thrive. Its research finds that more than 80% of consumers are familiar with the brand name — the result of nearly 40 years in business, and marketing that includes a current partnership with Fox Sports. But the brand also actively adapted to its consumers' new needs. For example, in 2022, it finalized a three-year digital transformation, in which guests can now use its app to check in, unlock their room doors, and control some in-room features like lighting. It also launched a new pet-friendly policy for the estimated 23 million households who welcomed a new pet during the pandemic.

Related: The Top 5 Franchises of the 21st Century

The rebounding hotel market has also fueled Hampton's continued expansion both in the U.S. and abroad.

Hampton operates in 36 countries, and in 2022 it signed on its 700th property in China. It now has more than 60 open hotels and a pipeline of nearly two dozen properties in the Caribbean and Latin America, and opened its first-ever locations in Uzbekistan, Latvia, and Ireland.

View the 2023 Franchise 500 Ranking Now

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