5 Reasons to Stay at an Independent Hotel
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There is an impulse in a large number of travelers to stay at national chain hotels while on vacation or a business trip. The question is, why?
Some will say it is because these lodgings are well branded and marketed. Others cite the consistency provided by such ubiquitous accommodations. Still other frequent travelers profess there's a certain level of comfort and familiarity in staying at different properties with the same appearance, even though they might be thousands of miles apart.
But since the business structure of an independent hotel is not identical to the chains, the guest experience, and the financial effects of that guest's stay at the location differ significantly from a few nights at one of the big names. Here are some prime examples:
When a traveler books an independent hotel, the money stays in the local community. This allows you as the guest to help the community continue to prosper, ensuring it will be around the next time you want to visit. These properties are normally plugged into the local scene more, and maintain symbiotic relationships with their neighbors. This may translate in better stay and dine packages, local discounts, and other deals. They are also more likely to support local organizations, charities, and church groups.
When you have a local hotel that isn't worrying about shareholders, they can turn their attention to guest service as opposed to bottom line management. In other words, they have the ability to focus on the needs of the guest and the return business instead of getting more production out of the housekeeping staff.
There is a saying in the hospitality industry: "happy employees mean happy guests." If you are overworking the staff to get to that bottom line, they will be irritable, underappreciated, and exhausted. This in turn will trickle down into subpar treatment of guests.
When you have a brilliant idea that can save the company money or better yet, make them more of it, you want to see the change implemented immediately. After all — time is money. The problem with working at a large company is typically, there isn't a system in place that allows changes to be implemented quickly. The local, independent hotel can usually navigate the chain of command efficiently and effectively, sometime immediately. This means that negotiations with guests can be made on the local level — thus avoiding the “company policy” answer when there is a problem.
There is nothing worse than a general manager telling a guest that they can’t help them because the corporate policy says so.
If you are interested in doing something that is local and off the beaten path, independent hotels are great sources of information in that category. Sure, chain hotels will have deals with the big local attractions, but if you are looking for something that is more unique, there is a better chance that the independents have secured a joint partnership.
Also, you don’t have to worry that the recommendations from the staff are being passed down from a corporate level because the hotel made a monetary deal with the attraction. To be fair, there isn’t rampant payola in the business, but I will tell you that concierges rarely pay for a meal, if you know what I mean.
Properties with Character
When a new hotel goes into a town, there is two ways that it can happen: they can rehab an existing structure, or build from the ground up. Typically, it is cheaper for a big corporation to build from the ground up. That way, the consistency remains the same throughout the chain, and there are fewer problems.
Independents can take over, repurpose, and renovate existing buildings, keeping some of the character of the local area.
For instance in 2001, the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center in Southbridge, Mass. was born from the facade and the original building of the American Optical Factory. So not only was it a brand new facility, but the hotel also retained the character and history of the building. They even carry the optical theme through with dedicated artwork and in the names of their restaurants — Visions Restaurant and Shades Lounge.
Hopefully these points help you think a little bit outside of the box when choosing between chain and independent hotels. The independent could be different, fun, and an all-around great experience.
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