Emma Eversham on the IHS Report
Emma Eversham, Editor of BigHospitality.co.uk, shares her thoughts on the U'K Independent Hotel Sector Today' report, and what it means for UK hoteliers.
You can receive a complimentary copy of the report, commissioned by the Independent Hotel Show, and penned by Melvin Gold Consulting Ltd. here
Why the independent hotel sector is best-placed
to battle the disruptors
For more than two years now we've monitored the arrival of so-called industry ‘disruptors' on BigHospitality, conveying hoteliers' concerns about Airbnb in interviews and reporting the moves by some to counteract its impact on the sector.
The rise of Airbnb isn't the only challenge facing today's independent hotelier, as Melvin Gold reveals in his report on the UK Independent Hotel Sector for this year's Independent Hotel Show.
Increasingly dominant OTAs, the growing market share of the hotel chains and the emergence of new ‘boutique brands' from the big hotel companies, as well as some of the legislative and operational issues hoteliers deal with on a daily basis are all outlined in Gold's 37-page well-researched report of the state of the UK's independent hotel sector.
On first look, it makes a depressing read: “Independent hotels are declining in quantum and as a proportion of the total hotel stock,” writes Gold beneath a table showing independent hotels' share of the market falling seven per cent in the last nine years.
As journalists we're conditioned to find the headline-grabbing (and often negative) slant and on further inspection, there are the warnings: Payroll costs will increase due to The National Living Wage; it will be tough to attract new talent (despite better pay) and the banks will be more likely to lend to branded operators than your independent hotel project.
However, read on, and it isn't all doom and gloom. In fact, as Gold points out, independent hoteliers are a resilient, resourceful and creative bunch who relish the fact they know their driving force – their guests – better than the hotel behemoths ever could.
Because of their size and management structure, independent hotels also have the ability to adapt quicker to change than their branded counterparts. An independent hotelier sets the company's own ‘brand guidelines' and is more likely to be recruiting its staff and instilling that company's ethos in them, so as the guest's needs change the independent hotel can meet them.
And Airbnb and other similar sites? They aren't competition. As one fearless hotelier told me in an interview this week ‘hoteliers do a better job' because they provide services and give guests exactly what they want. How many Airbnb properties offer a choice of rooms in one location and have staff on call?
Independent hotels are also best placed to offer personalisation, both through their offering and service, a desire of millennial guests who are, as Gold puts it ‘the golden segment everyone has been raving about'.
For anyone unconvinced the future for the independent hotelier is bright, I'll leave you with Gold's summary:
“The freedom an independent hotel gives, allows for assets to be created to drive a far better return on investment and bottom line than we would be able to achieve with chain hotels.
“Not only can an independent hotel differentiate in its concept and service, but we use guerrilla techniques in terms of revenue management, distribution and marketing strategies to drive financial results.
“I foresee that in the next 5 to 10 years we will see many more independent hotels being developed than ever before.”
Now, what are ‘disruptors' again?