The Top Concerns of Independent Hoteliers

And Some Solutions

By Pamela Barnhill President & COO, IHT, IBC and IVH Hotels | December 25, 2016

Even though independent hotels consistently make the news, the concerns of the owners and managers of independent hotels are often overlooked. Many cite consolidation, low margins, distribution, loyalty programs, rising operational expenses and technology as some of their key issues. How are independent hotels meeting these challenges?

With capital flush and entrepreneurs eager to enter the new peer-to-peer economy, the rise of fresh ventures has created a breadth of innovative, stimulating options for independent hoteliers. This is an exciting time for hotel owners who are ready and willing to embrace the changing landscape.

Consolidation

Last year and early this year have been a banner period for deal-making for buyers and sellers alike. What's curious is how attitudes differ on whether it is time to buy with plenty of upside or time to sell for fear of oversupply and a pending recession; opinion is truly split. Also, many are rumbling about a hospitality technology bubble in the brewing. In this low-margin business, we have already seen large consolidations among OTAs, so one may say that is a natural progression in brands, management and tech companies to scale.

But the naysayer may counter, "How will they maintain the culture or loyalty program?" or "Why was that really necessary?" Could it be that as brands, they are suffering and direct bookings are down? Could the brand be delivering less? Look at the monthly bills and line items and it's clear which bookings came from GDS, OTAs, meta and brand.com/CRO. A recent review of one such bill was very interesting: After stripping out GDS, OTA and meta, what was left that was truly owed to the brand.com was minimal.

The Landscape

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.