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 June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.