Reading the industry press over the past couple of months, I could not help but notice all the upheaval and the mergers and acquisitions activity at the big hotels chains. And after Marriott acquired Starwood, the talk is now about the era of the mega hotel chains.
However, I see a big opportunity for the independent hotel in the current market. Independent hotels I track are outperforming chain hotels in results, on average.
Looking through luxury travel magazines such as Conde Nast Traveller and Travel + Leisure, independent luxury hotels tend to outshine the chains. And the offers on popular lifestyle travel websites, such as Mr&Mrs Smith, Voyages Privé or Secret Escapes, are focused on authentic experiences delivered by original boutique hotels and luxury independent hotels.
Millennials, the golden market segment everyone has been raving about (and that may be the largest hotel spenders as soon as 2017), also seems to appreciate more authentic and original personalized experiences over a cookie cutter, off-the-shelf product.
So there is quite a good outlook for the independent hotel, and not only in the high-end or luxury market.
In the mid-scale and budget/economy segments, independent hotels are also making inroads. Refreshing concepts with original design and personal guest service are popping up, while even in the youth hostel market the product has been improving over the past few years.
All change please
What has inspired or triggered this phenomenon? The world has changed, people have become more aware and expressive of their needs. The modern consumer is much more conscious of what he appreciates and wants. The consumer is not looking for a standardized industrialized product. He is looking for a fun time at a nice place. And the industry is catching on.
Review scores and OTAs have leveled the playing field when it comes to the distribution reach of an independent hotel, compared with a chain branded hotel.