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When you look at the travel industry, it’s clear to see that it’s ever changing. Branded hotel chains continue to grow to try and become the best of the best, leaving independent properties to survive on their own.

Some argue that this is bad news for independent properties, saying that they’ll be overshadowed by these big brands. On the other hand, some believe that this will play out well for independent properties, saying their individuality will make them shine in a world of big brands.

The Millennial Experience

As the travel industry has grown, Millennials have too. They now have entered the working world and are traveling for business and pleasure, making this  the perfect time for independent properties to stand out. 59% of Millennials stayed at independent properties last year, which trumps Baby Boomers by 20%. Not a bad statistic to see when millennials are becoming the largest traveling group.

Knowing a growing travel audience finds a unique experience more enticing than a traditional stay, it’s important you find ways to ensure they’re getting a great experience from booking until the time they check out. Looking for an easy way to do so? A revamped rewards program. These should be easy-to-earn and unique just like your property. Gone are the days of stay five nights get one free, and we’re on to the days of earning rewards on the first stay.

Learning from Bigger Brands

One thing independent properties can take away from big brands is the way they market and brand themselves. With mergers and acquisitions continuing to happen, properties getting acquired are not just changing names but changing brand image as well. With all this happening, marketing the “new” property looks to run smoothly, and that is something independent properties can work toward.

Sure, the budget isn’t going to be the same size for an independent property as it is for a major brand, but their marketing efforts can mirror it. Big brands get creative with their offers, exciting guests to stay at their hotel, and that’s something an independent property can do as well.

If you look at every brand hotel, you’ll notice one common theme. They have responsive websites. While you may think, it is really that important? The answer is yes. When a prospective guest is going to book their trip, you better believe they’re researching on a combination of a mobile phone, tablet and computer. It’s best to have a website that looks beautiful on all of these devices. Need some help getting your website up to par? Contact us here.

Direct Marketing

Acquisitions that have made the Priceline Group and Expedia Inc. major players in the hotel industry have put some stress on industry to drive direct bookings instead of relying on OTAs. The difference for big brands and independent properties? Independent properties are generally paying higher commissions to OTAs and it’s impacting the bottom line for them, making it critical to stay away from OTAs as much as possible.

It’s time for independent properties to accelerate efforts to get travelers to book direct.  While it is going to be extremely hard for an independent property to compete against big brands when it comes to search terms, there are way for these independents to compete. Contact us to learn how ResortsandLodges can help.

Other than that, independent properties can take to social media, get creative with deals, and use segmented emails to generate direct bookings to their business. OTAs are showing no sign of slowing down, and independent properties need to start using their unique features to generate direct bookings.

Keeping Your Independence

From all of this, it’s clear to to see that independent properties need to look at ways to generate direct bookings, publicize their unique experiences, and utilize options that will keep them from losing revenue to commissions from OTAs. With millennials entering the travel sector, unique experiences are becoming more important to stand out and find ways to deliver unique deals and content to travelers.