The hospitality industry is always evolving. People are constantly wanting different things out of their traveling and lodging experience. Today, travelers want a break from the mundane. They don’t want to be in the standard, chain hotel where the look and feel of a location in Nashville is identical to the location in New York. Instead, they want their hotel to be an extension of the local experience. This is what hotel customers want and the big brands know it, thus creating the rise of soft brands. Soft hotel brands are collections of independent hotels owned by larger brands. Every major hotel has them, and they are becoming more and more popular. For example, Hilton’s Tapestry Collection, Marriot’s Autograph Collection and Wyndham’s Trademark Collection are just a few of the big names with soft brands. On the surface, this seems like bad news for the independent hotels. A familiar situation is where the small local business is being bought out by corporate, taking away its local mom and pop feel. But this is not the case. Here are a few reasons why soft brands are great for these small independent hotels.
As an independent local hotel, it is difficult to have the global reach of the larger brands. When an independent hotel joins one of these soft brand collections, they are immediately given the exposure of the larger brand. They are placed in the brand’s distribution network giving them the ability to have more national and global sales.
As local boutique style hotels become more popular, the competition will get stiffer. Each will need a way to separate, and make themselves standout, from the rest of the pack. Joining one of these soft brands is a great way for a hotel to do just that. If you were planning a vacation, which would you choose? A local hotel backed by a reputable name like Marriott? or a place that you knew little about that was also local and independently owned?
Under the wing of a large brand, small hotels gain access to valuable resources provided by the large brands. For instance, once the hotel joins the brand, they are placed in an immense database for bookings. So, if someone wanted to stay at and searched for Hilton hotels, locations under the Tapestry Collection would appear in their search. This is the type of exposure small locations could only dream of if they were not linked with a larger brand.
Training & Networking
Soft brands also give these hotel’s access to the training programs held by the bigger brands. Through the larger brand’s connections and ability to spend more on training, employees gain access to programs that may not otherwise have been able to attend. It also places them in a larger network where they can collaborate with other hotels and learn best practices.