Most travelers are familiar with the large chain hotels that offer accommodations almost anywhere in the country, and often almost anywhere in the world. These hotel companies hope to establish a horde of loyal guests who only stay at hotels within a certain brand portfolio. And many of these chains have been wildly successful.
However, many travelers are now turning to independent hotels and smaller chains more and more often. These hotels, inns, and B&Bs are smaller in size and therefore typically offer a more localized experience. According to Mendes Cavin of Hospitalitynet, this could be attributable to guests’ change in perception from “having” a luxury product to “being” in a luxury experience. It’s no longer enough for a hotel to offer an amazing bed and the newest technology. Hotels now have to offer a luxury, authentic experience.
Cavin also points out that independent hotels and small chains have the ability to quickly change tack, develop new products and services, and really cater to their guests in a meaningful way. The ability to adapt to changes in guest demands and provide excellent experiences often puts independent hotels and inns above large, typically inflexible chains.
Since independent properties are typically more adaptive, there has been a recent rise in the number of small hotels. In an article published by Skift, Greg Oates notes that the building of “authentic, local, experiential” hotels is starting to become a tired practice, but one that hoteliers continue to explore because of the overwhelming number of guests that desire to have these experiences that also appear attractive on social media.
In an effort to become more flexible and more adaptive, many large hotel chains have established smaller, boutique brands that act similarly to independent hotels. However, these boutique hotels may be accomplishing the exact opposite of their goal. Oates points out that a new W Hotel or a Kimpton property only creates excitement because it is in a new location, not because it will provide a new experience. Guests visiting one of these boutique chains know what to expect from the hotels, no matter where they are located.
Independent hotels and small chains allow for adaptability and often create an amazing, localized guest experience. It makes sense that chain hotels hope to emulate these strategies with their boutique brands, but are they simply just creating new, fashionable brands instead?
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