By Mark Lewis, Founder and CEO of HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts
As is customary in the beginning of every New Year, hundreds of opinion articles and white papers, from hotel marketing trends to hospitality industry forecasts, flood the internet pouring from all angles. This year, the most cited prospects tell us:
- mobile is here to stay and will only continue to grow stronger
- content and visual storytelling will continue to be the way forward in hotel marketing
- the Millennial generation will carry on dictating the future of the hotel experience
- disruptors like Airbnb will continue to gain terrain
My own take on 2015 is that this will be the year of the Independent Hotelier. And here’s why:
It’s a fact: Consumer choice is changing. According to travel marketing firm MMGY, an impressive 59% of millennial travellers have stayed at an independent hotel last year, 20% more, when compared to baby boomers. Millennials are drawn to the authentic, and crave unique local experiences. In other words, when Millennials travel to London they want to feel like they’re in London; when they go to New York they want to feel like they’re in New York, and I believe their choice of accommodation will continue to reflect just that. Authenticity is becoming more important than plain old consistency.
Fuelled by this demand, big chains already started coming up with new brands determined to win back this generation of travellers. These would-be independents commonly referred to as “fauxtiques”, promise their guests a standardized ‘unique’ boutique experience.
The Independent Hotel Experience
Nonetheless, I believe independents should continue to do what they do best – i.e., to deliver true authenticity. Be it by way of original local architecture, or the use of local produce in the restaurant; independent hotels offer guests a true connection to the spirit of their cities or regions, and this is what is driving travellers and enriching local communities. After all, you can’t mass-produce individuality.
Customers no longer rely solely on star ratings or brand names. When you look at sites like TripAdvisor, you see how the independent experience continues to gain top marks. Rudding Park, for example, an independently owned and managed hotel in Harrogate and a HotelREZ member hotel, has been consecutively ranked on the top 3 hotels in the UK by TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards.
The Right Representation Can Level The Playing Field
Yes, it’s hard being an independent. Many independent hotels don’t have the big marketing budget, nor the staff/time to efficiently distribute, market and manage their hotel all on their own. Thanks to the advances of cloud computing and open source software, a myriad of technological solutions has now become available to the savvy independent hotelier, to make their jobs easier and more efficient, which I believe goes some way to bridging the gap.
However technology alone will not enable the independent hotelier to compete worldwide. Only by working with the right representation partner, one that provides sales, marketing and revenue advice as well as access to consortia, corporate and even meta search distribution and partnership (historically reserved only for chains), can an independent truly stand on its own two feet.
Representation companies can help independent hotels access agents, online channels and preferred partners that won’t or can’t work with individual hotels, but will work with one group which represents them. Keeping your independence, brand name and individuality is just the cherry on top.
In conclusion, as long as independents partner with the right experts, and play their ‘independence’ card right, I believe their outlook for 2015 will be nothing short of bright.
Want to know what HotelREZ can do for your Hotel?
HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts is a hotel representation company providing distribution, sales and marketing consultancy and technology to independent hotels and small chains. We provide properties with GDS representation under our own HO chain code, and help market hotels to thousands of travel and MICE agents and partners worldwide. For more information on joining our portfolio of unique and independent hotels contact our Business Development team today or complete our hotel membership enquiry form.
Image Credits: Hotel Sign image via travelandescape.ca