Value or Brand?

This article and related YPB&R survey suggest “value” is far more important than “brand” as a factor for business travelers choosing hotels. I think value has always been important. But, it’s such a vague and subjective concept (as is branding). And, it’s very difficult to break-down what is actually influencing the value in the first place.

In my opinion, here are the key findings from the survey and my conclusions:

“Business travelers also express growing interest in non-chain affiliated hotels (14%, up from 10% last year)”

Independents have and always will (in my humble opinion) deliver a more memorable experience for their guests. They typically have a better story to tell, more attractive design elements and more employees that care.

“The hotel brand name is cited as influential by just over half (52%) of business travelers, down from 64% last year.”

This is a huge shift, and one that is likely to continue as more people seek meaningful experiences which are delivered more often by independent properties (see my first comment).

“Contrary to the trend observed during the past few years, a significantly higher percentage of business travelers report using the services of a travel agent (32%, up from 25%).”

I’m glad to see this moving up again. I think there are two factors driving this trend: a shakeout in the TA business (the last few years have culled out the folks who had no business being in the business), and travelers’ increased aversion to the deceit and confusion created primarily by brand advertising, false promises and the massive amount of information and choices on-line. Travelers need someone they can trust. And, in the absence of a family, friend or co-worker referral, they need an expert.