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You have thousands of choices when you travel, but at the end of the day lodging breaks down into two categories: Chain versus independently-owned hotels. Each brings its own benefits and compromises and attracts different types of travelers.
In general, chain hotels tend to be able to offer a larger variety of services, provide a reliable amount of consistency from property to property, staff experienced employees, and are a safe bet in terms of knowing what you're going to get. The consequence of the consistency is a lack of creativity, though, as chain hotels sometimes suffer in the personality department.
Independently owned hotels have a little more risk involved, as they are typically stand-alone properties that may or may not live up to your expectations. However, the upside is huge, as they tend to have more personality than chain hotels and give guests a more localized experience, especially in the case of small, boutique hotels. There is also a higher likelihood that your tourism dollars will remain in the destination, as opposed to chain hotels with revenue streams that lead back to their corporate office in other city or even country.
At the end of last year during our awards' week, the 2012 "must-have hotel amenity" was an app. For something that's only been around a few years, apps have already come a long way. We've gone from apps that barely help you book to ones that enhance your stay, allowing you to order room service, check in, and read recommendations for the area. Naturally, it would be great if all hotels had a useful app for its guests, right?
Well, that's a little easier said than done, which is why to this day we really only see apps from the big chain hotels. An app seems inexpensive to the consumer (since it's usually free or only a few dollars), but did you know these apps can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 to develop? Consider an app like Marriott's, which includes almost 4,000 properties along with photos and city guides.
Additionally, the apps take a long time to develop. According to Intelity, a hospitality software solution company, a smartphone or tablet app can take up to 12 weeks to create. Now, imagine you are a bed and breakfast or small, independently-owned hotel. Is this worth your time and money?
Welcome to our regular feature, Pitch Your Hotel, where we let hoteliers, general managers and other hotel execs tell us on-camera what makes their hotels so different from all the rest. And believe us, the competition is fierce these days. So sit back, relax and listen to them explain why their hotels are worthy of your hard-earned dollars or rewards points.
Not keen on staying in cupboard room on your next trip to Londontown? Then why not go the opposite end of the spectrum by staying at The Athenaeum Hotel in London, one of London's very few privately run, independent hotels which has 34 townhouse apartments attached.
Naturally, these apartments lend themselves to famous folk on extended stays like Steven Spielberg (who turned one of the rooms into his film editing office) and Margaret Thatcher who chose to live in the Athenaeum while her house was being renovated. But these are also good choices for families who need more space during their trips.