Exclusive: Virgin taps Preferred as global partner

Four of Virgin Hotels’ properties in the U.S. have joined Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ L.V.X. Collection, HOTELS has learned. As Virgin Hotels continues to grow, more hotels will join the Preferred brand portfolio.

Joining Preferred are the Virgin Hotels Chicago, Virgin Hotels Dallas, Virgin Hotels Nashville, and newly opened Virgin Hotels New Orleans. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas remains a part of Hilton’s Curio Collection. Locations in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and New York City are scheduled to debut in 2022, followed by Miami in 2025. In addition, Virgin Hotels continues to explore hotel, conversions, and ground-up development in Boston, Los Angeles, Austin, Philadelphia, Seattle, London, and more.

“I have long admired Preferred Hotels & Resorts, in particular its exceptional upscale L.V.X collection, which we are now a part of,” Virgin Hotels CEO James Bermingham told HOTELS. “Having a long history with Preferred, I have met and built strong relationship with many of the executives and sales team in various markets and one thing is certain – we share a vision to provide authentic experiences. I feel confident that the partnership will generate value and build incremental demand while helping to expand Virgin Hotels’ presence.”

Virgin New Orleans

All of the aforementioned Virgin Hotels properties now have access to Preferred’s leisure, corporate, and group sales travel sectors, as well as its marketing and distribution solutions. While Virgin will continue to offer its preferences and loyalty program, The Know, all five properties will also benefit from participation in I Prefer Hotel Rewards, Preferred’s points-based guest loyalty program.

HOTELS spoke with Preferred CEO Lindsey Ueberroth to learn more about this news.

HOTELS: How did this deal come together?

Lindsey Ueberroth: I have had the pleasure of working closely with James Birmingham for many years in his previous leadership role with Montage International, a long-standing partner of Preferred Hotels & Resorts through its two brands, Montage Hotels & Resorts and Pendry Hotels & Resorts. Given that relationship, he is very familiar with the Preferred family and global services we provide in the areas of sales, distribution, marketing, loyalty, and beyond. I would like to say that bringing this deal together was as simple as a phone call. However, there was a lot of discussion on both sides to establish the terms and key priorities since it is a multi-property, global partnership.

H: Preferred predominantly works with independent hoteliers. How many brands does it work with?

LU: The majority of our member hotels are one-of-a-kind independent hotels and brands in their own right who partner with Preferred to access the global scale, reach, and resources that our infrastructure provides. With that, you could say we work with nearly 700 distinct, individual brands around the world. In certain cases, we have been thrilled to retain and grow with partners as they evolve into influential regional brands with multiple properties across various location and gain impressive industry acclaim. Currently, we work with many well-known brands around the world including Montage Hotels & Resorts, The Fullerton Hotels, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, Posadas, and Tokyu Hotels, to name a few.

Virgin Dallas

H: How many other “master partnerships” does Preferred have and how are these structured differently than single-property deals? And what are the benefits to Virgin for doing a master agreement?

LU: Currently, Preferred has approximately five partnerships that would resemble this one with Virgin Hotels. Similar to Virgin Hotels’ positioning, these other groups have distinct, existing brand positioning that is enhanced by the reach, capabilities, and flexibility of the Preferred model. Some of these are hotel companies with excellent brand recognition in their home country or region, which is then enhanced globally through Preferred’s vast client network and brand awareness. Outside of a simplified contracting process as they bring new hotels into their portfolio, the overall service package to brands we have master partnerships with like Virgin Hotels does not vary significantly from an individual hotel agreement.

H: What is the significance of this deal for Preferred? Might similar deals be in the offing?

LU: We are thrilled to work with a brand like Virgin Hotels and re-connect with a longtime hotelier partner like James Birmingham. The significance in a deal like this is multiple properties in key markets where we can leverage our strengths to drive value and success together, while offering even more exciting destinations to our loyal I Prefer members.

Virgin is a well know consumer brand on many levels; however, its fast-growing hotel brand may not be as well known yet to travelers around the globe. Through our new partnership, Virgin Hotels can take advantage of our global scale and service offerings while focusing on building its brand and management excellence. We love partnering with independently minded brands that celebrate creating unique, one-of-a-kind properties that have an identity and spirit of their own, celebrate their destination, and deliver authentic experiences.