The independent hotel sector in the UK may have shrunk in size, however, the remaining properties have rarely been stronger or more influential, according to a new report Commissioned by the Independent Hotel Show, and penned by Melvin Gold Consulting Ltd., the report is a ‘thought leadership’ document which summarises and emphasises the key issues for Independent hotels operating in the UK today.
Although it is shrinking, both in terms of its overall size and as a proportion of the country’s serviced accommodation sector, those that have survived – and Independent hotel rooms still comprise more than half of the serviced accommodation rooms in the UK – have thrived because they have truly understood the requirements of the 21st Century traveller and striven to satisfy their requirements. Over 40,000 hotel rooms in independent hotels have closed in a little over a decade. In most cases failure to invest and innovate put them at risk in the face of a more discerning, better informed, consumer, and the marketing strength of hotel brands and online travel agencies (OTAs).
The sector is said to be defined by five critical differentiating factors: individuality, locality, freedom, personality and innovation, and, as a result, is best placed to meet the changing and ever increasing demands of guests, who want a genuine and exceptional experience.
One of the many examples of best practice and innovation that is said to originate from independent hotels is within the UK’s seaside resorts where a new breed of properties is developing. “These can attract guests to the locality purely due to their own quality, marketing or reputation and by showing the potential have often encouraged investment by other hoteliers,” said Gold. “These are not necessarily seaside hotels of the traditional genre but instead typically have a lifestyle or boutique feel, often supported by spa, leisure or food and beverage facilities that mitigate weather and seasonal dependence.”
While the performance figures quoted in the report from STR are not definitive, due to the limited sample of independent hotels as opposed to the majority of chain hotels being included, the report shows that independent businesses tend to outperform branded outlets in average room rate and revenue per available room, while the groups achieve high occupancy percentages.
The report adds that there is little doubt that the hotel brands will continue their growth and equally that some Independent hotels might fall by the wayside. Some may choose to rebrand but the majority will remain, either through choice or because they are simply too small, too quirky or too unusually located (or perhaps a combination) to affiliate. The best will provide leadership and innovation for the whole hotel sector and this report highlights key topics, actions and opportunities that are likely to underpin their success.