Today, there seem to be more and more independent hotels with their own distinctive personalities. But success is not a given for these independent hotels. Many of them are aligning with major hotel companies and becoming part of a “soft brand” or collection to enjoy the security that comes with the backing of a major hospitality engine.
The soft brand arrangement is mutually beneficial for hotel companies and independent properties. Owners are able to tap into industry-leading business platforms and economies of scale to optimize their property’s operations and financials. Importantly, at the same time, they’re able to maintain creative control and independent features. For some hoteliers this is an understandable must.
It’s also a winning combination for consumers. They get more destination choices, inspired aesthetics, locally relevant experiences, and the benefits of loyalty programs.
This brand-behind-the-brand approach isn’t unique to the hotel industry. “Powered by Google” is one of the most recognized phrases in the business universe. And Amazon Web Services (AWS) is likely the backbone of the last few things you purchased online from your favorite websites not named Amazon.com. This phenomenon extends offline to everything from purses (LVMH, Coach, etc.) to snacks (Mondelez, Mars, etc.).
What these examples illustrate is that there are significant and inherent benefits in having major industry multinationals join forces with independents, including improved operating efficiencies. This is particularly important in the hotel world because going it alone isn’t always optimal.
With the right pairing, suddenly hoteliers don’t have to negotiate distribution deals on their own, pay top dollar for advertising, or create their own apps. These factors may not be flashy, but they affect customer experience and the bottom line. For a big international company, it’s a matter of scaling existing best practices. For independents, it can be liberating and take their lodging business to new heights.
The bottom line is that embracing hotel individuality and unlocking its potential is great news for consumers and often mission-critical for hotel owners. Whether you’re the brand on the front of the building or one operating behind the scenes, living in a brand-powered world can lead to positive and profitable new hospitality partnerships that seamlessly surprise and delight the next wave of travelers.
About the Author
Stephanie Linnartz is the chief global commercial officer at Marriott International.
Photo: The Cotton House Hotel, an Autograph Collection hotel