How Millennial demand could spell success for independent hotels

Big opportunities are on the horizon for the independent hotel as many outperform the big-name chains, according to a recent article, published by Tnooz and penned by Patrick Landman, founder and CEO of hotel management group Xhotels.

Despite the major mergers and acquisitions that have taken place in the sector over the past few months, such as Marriott taking on Starwood, independents need not despair that they will be overshadowed by the mega hotel chain. After all, the customer of today is one who values authentic, unique experiences, and if an independent is able to tailor their offering to meet those needs, the future looks positive.

We are, of course, talking about Millennials - the key traveller demographic - and their well-documented desire for original, personalised travel experiences, which includes their choice of accommodation.

Earlier this year, research from Sabre, based on an analysis of approximately 10,000 booking engines, suggested that Millennials will become the largest spenders on hotels as early as 2017. There's no doubt that refreshing concepts with personalised service and distinctive design will be the name of the game for businesses hoping to win this demographic round. Even the youth hostel sector has been developing in this direction in order to meet this new demand for originality over standardised services and products.

Patrick Landman points out the fact that online travel agencies and digital platforms have played a huge role in levelling the playing field for independent hotels, giving them a distribution reach which can actually compete with that of a large chain hotel.

In fact, he offers a number of advantages the independent hotel can press to their advantage when it comes to catching the eye of the Millennial crowd. They can place an emphasis on the desires of their guests as opposed to adhering to brand standards, and bypass the bureaucratic barriers of the larger chains when it comes to launching original initiatives. Independent hotels also offer more freedom for their owners to develop assets which can boost their bottom line. As if to punctuate this point, Landman reports that his portfolio of 50 independent hotels are already outperforming chain hotels in their market.

But of course, the global hotel chains are not going to rest on their laurels. They are already looking at ways they can attract Millennials and minimise the 'big hotel experience'. Marriott brought in consulting firm Fahrenheit 212 to help them connect with this golden demographic, experimenting with new concepts in specially chosen locations around the world. Will it be enough to transform the brand in the eyes of future Millennials? Only time will tell.

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