Independent Streak
Business Traveler|February 2017

Today’s business travelers expect unique hotel experiences, and hoteliers are only to happy to accommodate

Jerome Greer Chandler

Don’t discount the impact of Millennial momentum. It’s changing the face of business travel, especially in their individualized choices of where to lay their yet-to-gray heads for the night. “I really think we’re facing a very special moment in the development of the hotel industry,” asserts Lukasz Dabrowski, senior vice president, global for corporate hotel solutions provider HRS. Of the roughly worldwide 300,000 properties in the HRS portfolio, two-thirds are independents.

The generational shift is propelling younger business travelers to book hotel properties much the same way they arrange for their private travel, Dabrowski says. “The balance is definitely shifting from the same room, with the same amenities wherever they go worldwide towards the new, the local, the unique.”

Marwan Batrouni, senior director and hotel practice area leader at corporate travel consultancy Advito, echoes that assessment. “Younger travelers want the best of both worlds,” he says. They crave frequent stayer points, the better to spend them on their personal leisure longings. At the same time they’re also in search of “a non-traditional or new experience while on the road.” It’s the sort of thing that keeps Millennials smiling, whether they traveling for business or pleasure.

“The marketing is evolving and travelers want options,” agrees Rodolfo Elizando, vice president and head of global business consulting at American Express Global Business Travel. Business travelers “accustomed to alternative lodgings from their leisure travel want these options for corporate.”

Those options include true independents and increasingly the so-called ‘soft brands’ – independent properties that find economies of scale and marketing prowess under the corporate umbrellas of big chain hoteliers.

A Soft Landing

The chains are catching on fast to the trend. After all, the Millennial market matters more every day. Consider some of the major players in the game: Hilton Worldwide’s Curio Collection, Lowes Hotels & Resorts’ OE Collection, Marriott International’s Autograph Collection, Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Tribute Portfolio, Choice Hotels International’s Ascend Hotels Collection, Best Western International’s BW Premier Collection and Vantage Hospitality’s Lexington Legacy Hotels.

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