Branded or Independent?

What to consider when acquiring your next hotel property



January 9, 2023

There’s a plethora of factors that management companies have to consider before acquiring another property. Ranging from location to size of the property, perhaps the most common place to start is whether the property is part of a larger brand or an independent hotel. 

Neither is the right or wrong answer—rather, it depends on what the management company is looking for and wants to focus on. With branded properties comes a lot of the work already done, like big marketing budgets and a standard of service already set up. But with independent properties, there’s a lot more freedom to provide a unique experience. 

Explore which is best for your company by exploring the benefits of each.

Big brands

The Marriotts, IHGs, and Hiltons of the world come with the foundational work cut out for owners: a well-known brand standard, a level of expected service, large marketing budgets, and a built-in network. 

With this level of standardization comes a consistency perk for guests that are looking for a level of service that they can get at any location in the world. Whether it’s Ohio or Brazil, a Holiday Inn is going to have a reliable and consistent experience for guests. 

This uniformity can be comforting for guests and keep it simple for management, as there is already a blueprint for what kind of service and how to provide it. Automatic resources, tools, and guides are also provided by a franchised brand, oftentimes making for a simpler lift when getting a property off the ground. 

This larger built-in network also allows for more competitive locations and competitive pricing. With more rooms and bigger budgets comes the ability to charge less per night, a competitive edge that independent brands may not have. 

All this being said, what branded properties don’t allow for is flexibility, creativity, and a unique experience—there are regulations and limits on just about everything management might want to implement at each location.

Unique independents 

Quite the opposite of all the standardization of a branded property, independent hotels allow owners to shape and define qualities that make their hotel unique. Maybe there’s a special history to the building, or offerings that can make it stand out like a homemade breakfast—things you probably wouldn’t see at a Hilton Garden Inn.

Additionally, independent hotels can provide a more local experience for guests wanting to explore authentic parts of the city and find those holes in the wall. With smaller staff comes an opportunity to know the area well, create close relationships with guests, and curate those unique experiences.

Without standardization of service, independent hotels have the freedom to curate and customize the experience. There’s no need to run a marketing campaign by corporate or get pricing approved since it’s all up to the owner or management company. This freedom covers everything from branding to offerings, decor to implementing new technologies such as hotel guest messaging.

While it can be tricky to compete with larger brands on pricing, what independent hotels can do is increase the value and appeal of their offerings. For instance, if the Westin across the street charges extra for breakfast and Wi-Fi, simply provide these things at no additional cost. 

Or maybe there’s local art in the lobby that guests can explore to learn more about the area. A local band comes to play at the hotel bar every Friday night. The kitchen is farm-to-table and all food comes from farms nearby.

When it comes down to it, independent hotels are free to create whatever defining experience they want. It might not be for the guest who wants the same old, same old, but it’s definitely where that adventurous guest looking for an authentic experience will stay.

What’s best for you?

So, does your management company want a limited and structured but competitive branded hotel? Or do you want the freedom to create your own unique experience? It’s up to you and what experience you want for your guests.

Learn more about management strategies, hotel technology such as hospitality text messaging systems, and more on the Kipsu blog.

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