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Today’s independent hoteliers are seeking to create unique experiences to help drive more group business.  From providing culinary experiences to partnering with local convention centers and national publications, hotel brands are seeking out new ways to establish competitive differentiation.

“From an experience standpoint, we try and create experiences that are extraordinarily unique so that we have a competitive advantage against the other people they are looking at,” said Jeff McIntyre, partner at Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, in a recent Hotel News Now article.

In today’s highly competitive travel industry, we believe that these independent brands are doing the right things to help drive true differentiation from the larger players.

However, in addition to providing experiences to remember, we believe that innovation should be the foundation for making a smaller brand truly stand out from the pack. This includes embracing new mobile solutions for connecting with guests to leveraging data analytic offerings that allow hoteliers to make personalized offers to guest before, during and after their stays.

It is possible to marry both a real-life experience with technology that will both enhance word-of-mouth marketing, positive online reviews and create long-term loyalty, which is very difficult to attain in the travel sector.

As we see in the music industry, it is often the independent musicians who are creating the most innovative songs and business models for promoting their music.  The mainstream music business often copies these sounds and business models for one simple reason: people like original and new things.

We will surely see larger brands taking a page from independent hoteliers by providing custom experiences.  Once again, if innovation is part of the equation, then the sky is the limit with what you can achieve in terms of attracting and retaining life-long guests.