Can the UK’s independent hotels and venues compete with the big brands when it comes to attracting and retaining business? While venues with an international name above the door can offer brand consistency, you can also find outstanding levels of personal service at independent properties.
As Capita Travel and Events continues to expand its Collection of independent hotels and venues, we always suggest that companies shouldn’t put all their eggs in one basket, but use a mix of branded properties and independents to give their travellers as much choice as possible. In 2016, no single hotel chain had more than 10% of Capita customers’ spend. Here, we look at why it’s an exciting time to include independent venues in your travel programme.
1. Independent properties offer the personal touch
Independents have a unique style; they don’t offer cookie-cutter experiences. The comfort of a more intimate property may have additional appeal for the most frequent travellers – who may be looking for more of a home-from-home experience.
As travellers look for ever-more-personalised experiences, the popularity of independent venues and hotels will continue to increase.
2. They’re likely to go the extra mile
Independent properties must work smarter to retain customers, as they don’t have a brand that will instantly identify them; they have to stand out in other ways.
The extra effort they put in, along with those personal touches, make them some of the most exciting places to stay, and helps guests feel noticed and appreciated.
3. They’re open to requests
When it comes to making a quick decision or responding to an unexpected booker request, independent hotels and venues sometimes have an edge. They do not have a set of rules or red tape they need to follow, so can often be more flexible.
As a result, they may have greater room for creativity in everything from meeting programmes to restaurant menus. For example, letting guests request food items that aren’t on the menu can provide a more personal, feel-good experience.
4. You can expect a stay to remember
When you are planning a meeting, conference or other event, there’s nothing like holding it in a unique or unusual property to make delegates sit up and take notice. It not only delivers a high-impact experience for your investment, but also creates excitement around your key event messages.
More than 250 hotels and venues have signed up to our Collection partnership programme for independent properties, ranging from historic landmarks, such as the unforgettable Warwick Castle, to country estates, conference specialists and sports stadiums. This gives our customers an array of options to choose from.
5. Staff help to deliver outstanding experiences
All hotels and venues strive to create great customer experiences. That’s certainly the case at Collection properties such as Coombe Abbey, where the dedicated team can offer a tour of every history-packed corner of this unusual hotel – and even fill you in on its resident ghosts.
In many cases, we find business travellers and conference delegates wanting to return to these kind of properties in their leisure time, to share them with their families; a sure sign that the venue has provided a memorable experience.
6. Independent doesn’t mean cutting corners on standards
Working with a travel management company benefits our independent partners, too. Our relationship with Collection partners extends to sharing our expertise and insights to ensure venues are meeting the highest industry standards. For example, we can advise on how our partners can tighten up traveller security.
What’s more, as we have previously discussed, independents can also offer great-value accommodation in locations that other brands cannot reach. It’s time to think independent.
Leigh Cowlishaw is director of supplier partnerships for Capita Travel and Events. Want to find out more about independent hotels and venues in the Capita Collection? Get in touch today!