HB Exclusive: Omni’s Kurt Alexander talks brand elevation

Shortly after Omni Hotels & Resorts revealed the company’s first brand evolution in more than 10 years, company president Kurt Alexander talked exclusively with Hotel Business about the evolution and what it means for the company.

“We’ve talked about it as an era of elevation,” he said. “We are elevating who we are as a brand; elevating how we’re perceived as a brand; elevating what we do; elevating the customer touch points along the way. When you think about our company, we’re multiple stakeholders within one organization. We’re a real estate owner, we’re the hotel operator and we are the brand. That integration of those three kinds of stakeholders creates a unique competitive advantage.”

On the owner side of things, Alexander said that the company has invested more than a billion dollars into its physical product over the last few years, from the opening of the Omni PGA Frisco Resort in Texas to the reimaging of the Omni Tucson National Resort in Arizona.

“If you look ahead at the next five years, we have a billion-and-a-half dollars committed to upgrading the physical manifestation of Omni—you touch it, you feel it, you interact with it, you stay in the room. To many consumers’ minds that is the leading edge of our brand, and we are investing massive resources into the physical manifestation of our brand.”

Omni Ft. Lauderdale Hotel

The company will soon be reopening the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, VA, and also has the Omni Fort Lauderdale Hotel under construction. In addition, the company recently broke ground on a new $250-million, 250-room resort near Punta Mita in Mexico.

When it comes to hotel operations, Omni has instituted a “massive” training program called “The Power of Engagement” for its nearly 20,000 employees. “When you look at the hard-dollar costs, it’s been north of $1 million,” he said. “When you look at the personnel costs included with that, it’s many, multimillion-dollar investments in terms of time, energy and attention, in addition to the curriculum that we have been training our people on.”

In addition to elevating its properties and the guest experience, Omni has introduced new branding. “We want to elevate all of those brand touchpoints,” said Alexander.

He said that the new branding came from the “rebuilding” that has been going on since COVID. “Every article you read in 2021 and even last year is that loyalty is up for grabs, people are resetting their preferences. People’s tastes have changed and evolved since COVID. We believe at Omni that a lot of the consumer preferences have shifted more towards who we are.”

He continued, “At Omni, we often say that we sit at the intersection between group and leisure. That is where we compete very well and ‘punch well above our weight’ in terms of things. For those kinds of market segments, it is a chance for us to just refresh in those people’s minds who we are and what the value proposition is with Omni.”

Alexander said it was also a good time because post-COVID, they have added nearly 14,000 new employees. “They are new to Omni, either from another brand or the hotel industry,” he said. “What better time to recalibrate and redefine who you are than when you have 14,000 new people in your company.”

At about the same time that Omni announced all of these enhancements, longtime company executive Peter Strebel, who most recently served as chairman, and had previously been president/CEO, revealed that he was leaving the company after more than 14 years to become president for the Americas for RateGain Travel Technologies Ltd.

“Peter is a great friend and a great friend of Omni’s,” said Alexander, who assumed the role of president at Omni in April 2022. “Peter bleeds Omni and always has for his whole career and always will. He is a big reason that the brand is where it is today. I really appreciate his contributions and his living the brand and carrying that mantle of leadership so well for so many years.”