As travel has slowly returned to normal, it’s clear that we are on the brink of an enormous travel boom. Of all the recent travel trends that have emerged, one is particularly promising for independent hotel owners, and that is that more and more travelers are straying away from hotel chains.
Travelers in 2021 no longer want the same travel experiences as their friends and neighbors. They want a unique vacation handcrafted for their trip. Travelers are moving away from large chain resorts and towards individually owned and operated hotels. The trend of seeking out irreplaceable experiences and doing away with cookie-cutter trips has seeped into every aspect of travel from planning onward.
Today, independent hotels make up nearly 40% of the marketplace, but are becoming increasingly in vogue. What’s apparent is that independent hotels are more likely to offer novel experiences.
As small businesses, independent hotels are built around the concepts of passion and service. Many independent hotels are the products of a single person’s hard work and passion, and that is reflected in the quality of service and reputation at those properties. As hard as larger hotel chains try, they will never be able to replicate authentic passion.
Who’s booking independent hotels?
When one reads of the latest trends in travel or otherwise, they often assume these trends are spearheaded by younger generations who, as studies have shown, prioritize experiences above all else.
While it may be true that younger generations prioritize travel over material possession, it is also true that travel spending is increasing across the board. In fact, in 2019, travel spending increased across all generations. On average, millennials spent $4,400 on travel, while Boomers spent $6,600, and Gen-Xers $5,400.
Based on these statistics, it’s safe to say that there is no single type of traveler or demographic booking independent hotels, but rather, travelers across the board are increasingly tired of hotel chains and are willing to go the extra mile to avoid them.
Why are travelers booking independent hotels?
The independent hotel is an experience worth writing home about. Compared to large chains, these hotels offer intimate settings that are first, and foremost, service oriented.
This passion for excellent service stems from the pride these hoteliers feel as small business owners. Every guest’s experience is valued the same, but each of their stories are unique. Travelers want to book hotels where they can create lasting memories, not just cookie cutter travel experiences.
This emphasis placed on experiential travel is a trend that appears to be here to stay. Independent and boutique hotels far exceed their larger competitors at creating one-of-a-kind, authentic travel experiences. So much so that even larger chains are rebranding individual properties to avoid brand association.
How can independent hotels compete with large chains?
Competing with massive hotel chains with seemingly endless resources is no easy feat for a small business. Hotel chains have the luxury of multi-department corporate staffing, and many individually owned hotels do not. Fortunately for independent hotels, they have the option to outsource their call center. Having a reservation department or call center that fulfills that level of service on every call is vital to creating a service-oriented experience, the kind travelers won’t get from digital booking platforms.
Independent hotels benefit greatly when they make the jump to outsourcing their reservation department. Outsourcing to a call center with expertly trained agents frees up hotel staff to focus on current guests and create those unique travel experiences that individually owned hotels specialize in.
While not all call centers are created equal, hoteliers can rest easy knowing that hotel call center trained by the Kennedy Training Network (KTN) are staffed with highly trained call center agents who specialize in your individual property.
Kennedy Training Network has revived the lost art of fully engaging prospective guests and communication with natural conversational flow. With so many ways to book online, guests often crave the simplicity of a phone call. “The higher the rate, the longer the stay, and most of all, the more emotionally connected they are to the travel experience, the more likely they are to call vs. book online,” says KTN President Doug Kennedy.” A personal touch, like that taught by KTN and embraced by Travel Outlook, to establish trust is more critical now then ever.
As travel begins to boom and we say hello to summer 2021, travelers are looking for a one-of-a-kind hotel experience. These aren’t created in massive hotel chains, but rather in locally and independently owned properties. To handle the travel upcoming travel surge and to compete with larger corporations, independent hotels are turning to expertly trained call centers to outsource their reservation department.
John Smallwood is CEO of Travel Outlook Premium Reservations Call Center. In addition to the unique use of world-class call center technology, Travel Outlook is the only call center certified by Kennedy Training Network, the hotel industry’s best source for sales training and guest service excellence. Its luxury call team is tested by Forbes and Kennedy each month. Travel Outlook’s clients include many of the world’s finest hotels and resorts, including Viceroy Hotel Group, Outrigger, KSL Resorts, Proper Hospitality Group, Pacific Hospitality Group, Highgate Hotels, Columbia Hospitality, The Irvine Company, Catalina Island and many others.
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