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Hospitality Insights

Independents vs Branded in the US of A

19 August 2016


I was fortunate to be invited to a wedding in California a few weeks back. Having to travel that far from the UK, I used the wedding as an opportunity to do a bit of a “road trip” on the famous pacific coast highway. My fiancé & I in short, had an absolute blast, stunning scenery, amazing food, wonderful climate, and lovely people.

What the trip also highlighted for me, was the massive difference in hotels from branded to independents in the States. Over 75% of hotels in the States are “branded’’. On our trip through California, we stayed in a variety of the branded hotels and can safely say that our experiences in the independent hotels were consistently better.

I was very impressed with the service, quality and ‘’little touches’’ of individuality that made us feel special. The rooms were great and the facilities matched those of the brands. We actually used an OTA (Sorry hoteliers) for the trip, and booked on the day or the day before using Hotel Tonight. The experience with them was also good, and was great to have quick and simple access to hotels we had never heard of and were of great quality. I also used the hotel tonight live concierge function for one of our locations and the lady was really helpful.

Hostel Hotel Hybrid Santa Barbara California

The quality of these hotels must put the “Soft Brands” in the industry under threat as the hotels I stayed in seemed to be doing better on their own without the restrictions of a soft brand. All the hotels had simple but effective branding, pretty good websites and active social media presence (they all responded to any tweets or photos I put on Instagram).


So next time you are travelling to the States (or anywhere in fact!), give the independent hotels a go, you won’t be disappointed.

Come and meet Umi Digital at the Independent Hotel Show 18th-19th October 2016

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