Carol Verret Consulting 
and Training
Training Seminars
The Challenges and Opportunities for Independent
and Boutique Hotels in a Difficult Economy



August 2008 - Independent and boutique properties have a several advantages over their branded counterparts.  The first is the trend in experience travel and the second is the use of the internet in making travel decisions.  The internet is the great level playing field with equal opportunity for both brands and independents.   “Fully 72.2% of Internet users in the US named the Web as their primary source for travel research in June 2008,” (EMarketer quoting a Prospectiv  study, July, 08)   

In a research article in July 08, USA Today reported that the Luxury sector of the market was holding up well and that “…households earning $100,000 and more now account for about one-third of hotel stays.”  The ‘sort of’ good news appeared in another report by eMarketer where a survey indicated that “The focus on value matters because price trumps brand in an economic downturn, according to a survey of consumers.”

These two would appear relatively contradictory but the key word here is value and not just in terms of price.  Robert Mandlebaum with PKF recently published a study of boutique hotels that indicated they prosper more in good economic times than their branded counterparts but also are also more highly impacted in poor economic times.    (PKF, 4/22/08)  

In terms of independent conference facilities, a PKF report by Dave Arnold on Trends in the ‘Conference Center industry is relatively upbeat (July 08).   The study goes on to say however, that the industry is currently battered by “…meetings being postponed or cancelled due to corporate fear of deeper economic problems. In addition, the problem of attrition is surfacing for the meetings that are being held”; he believes that the downturn may have ‘bottomed out’.    “(T)he historically low value of the dollar is making our industry more desirable for foreign visitation, while international meetings for US firms are economically unviable.  New supply of conference centers is being greatly restricted due to the tight financial markets. This only serves to make existing centers more valuable…”  

Four things that independent hotels and resorts can do now to enhance their revenues in this economy:

Define the uniqueness of the experience.    What makes you special?  How can you add special experiences to enhance the ‘unique’ quotient?   One unique, historic hotel has added ‘wine tasting’ dinners in partnership with a regional vineyard.  They promote these periodically in the off season and they have been highly successful.    These enhance F&B revenues as well as room revenue as they are marketed to a regional market.   What venues of local interest such as museums or festivals can you partner with to package an enhanced experience?

Align with third party organizations that contribute to the sales effort.     What affiliations do you have with third party representatives to enhance you position on the internet.  How much have these affiliations actually contributed to revenue?  There are some third party affiliates such as Luxe Hotels, among others,  that actively ‘sell’ groups and provide connections with other revenue generating channels for their members.    A cost benefit analysis of some of these affiliations  is in order during tough times when any marketing initiative is compelled to prove a price/value equation.

Have a powerful presence on internet channels – both group and leisure.   Visitors to the online agencies as a whole were up 8% in May, according to comScore, while traffic at hotel sites was flat in May ‘08.  Having Merchant Agreements with the OTAs is critical and offers such benefits as packaging options and placement on special travel experience searches, such as Beach Vacations, etc.    Being present on group RFP sites both corporate such as StarCite and social sites such as provides another channel that can enhance the property’s  sales effort.  Don’t forget the critical importance of review sites – better yet, start a blog that invites comments from past and regular guests. 

Focus sales and marketing efforts regionally.    Both leisure and meeting travel is drawing into more regional destinations unless you are located in an international gateway city.  The ‘one tank of gas’ rule has been the benchmark for summer auto travel (New York Times, August 3, ’08) while meetings are also falling into that category.   Wendy Desabaye runs a consulting business in Boston that plans corporate meetings for companies based in New England. She says rising airfares have caused companies to stop scheduling meetings outside the region.   "I've been in business 10 years, and I've planned more meetings this year in Boston than in the past 10 years," Desabaye says. "Instead of requesting meetings in Hawaii and other faraway places, my clients are booking meetings where their employees can arrive by car or train."  (USA Today, August 4, 2008)

The good news is that independent hotels and resorts can move forward on new strategies very quickly and shift their focus just as quickly if something isn’t working.  This flexibility is not as easy for branded hotels that are corporately owned and/or operated by large management companies.   
Remember, in this economy, if you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you will get less than you did before!

Watch for the I Hate Cold Calls revenue generation seminar coming to Portland in September and Minneapolis and Phoenix this fall!  Email us for further details at  

Carol Verret And Associates Consulting and Training offers training services and consulting in the areas of sales, revenue management and customer service primarily but not exclusively to the hospitality industry. To find out more about the company click on To contact Carol send her an email at or she can be reached by cell phone (303) 618-4065.  Visit

copyright © Carol Verret, 2002-2003 -2004 -2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008

Carol Verret, Consulting and Training
Carol Verret
5910 S. University #C-18, PMB 374
Greenwood Village, CO 80121
Telephone: (303) 618-4065
Web Site:
Also See:  The Science of Hotel Sales* – The Benchmarking Imperative for Success in a Difficult Economy / Carol Verret / July 2008
Marketing & Revenue Management Plan 2009 - Succeeding in a Difficult Year / Carol Verret / July 2008
Tactics to Drive Business in a ‘Not So Hot’ Summer / Carol Verret / May 2008
All Marketers Are Liars - Web 2.0 Strategies for Hotel Sales and Marketing / Carol Verret / April 2008
Contingency Hotel Revenue Management Strategies 'I Will not Cut Prices'/ Carol Verret / March 2008
The Contingency Hotel Sales and Marketing Plan - Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst / Carol Verret / February 2008
Change is the Buzz – Rebooting Hotel Sales Activity at the Property Level / Carol Verret / January 2008
Habits of Highly Successful Revenue Managers Ramped Up for 2008 / Carol Verret / November 2007
Five Tips to Improving Hotel Customer Service with User Generated Reviews / Carol Verret / October 2007
Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People – A Seismic Shift in 2008! / Carol Verret / September 2007
GMs – How User Generated Review Sites Can Make you a Better Manager! / Carol Verret / September 2007
Web 2.0 and Hotel Sales Strategies for '08; What Are Your Clients Saying About You? / Carol Verret / August 2007
“It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow” -- Five Revenue Management Tactics for Independent Hotels / Carol Verett / June 2007
Developing New Hotel Business Using Client DNA / Carol Verret / May 2007
The Jigsaw Puzzle – The Fit of the Revenue Management and Internet Group Sales Pieces / Carol Verret / April 2007
Client DNA - The Gold Standard for New Business Development / Carol Verret / March 2007
The 'I Hate Cold Calls' Web Cast - The New Paradigm of Sales! / Carol Verret / February 2007
Hate Cold Calls? - Discover the New Paradigm of Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / January 2007
Issues in Hotel Sales Training - Metics for Success / Carol Verret / December 2006
Is the Party Over?; The Challenge of Decreasing Hotel Room Demand / Carol Verret / October 2006
The Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People Ramp Up for 2006! / Carol Verret / September 2006
Identifying the WIIFM Factor – The Essential of Hotel Sales Success / Carol Verret / August 2006
Revenue Management for Hotel GMs – What You Don’t Know Can Jump Up and Bite You! / Carol Verret / July 2006
Feeding the Revenue Elephant; Hotel Revenue Management / Summer 2006
The "Tipping Point" - Identifying the Touch Points in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / May 2006
The "Tipping Point" - Touch Points Make a Difference in Customer Service Training / Carol Verret / April 2006
Selling Up! Taking Group Room Revenue to a New Level / Carol Verret / February 2006
Revenue Management 2006; The Risks and Rewards / Carol Verret /January 2006 
Revenue Management and Group Sales - The Partnership Not the Disconnect / Carol Verret / November 2005
Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People / Carol Verret / September 2005
Triple Witching Hour - The Marketing Plan, Revenue Management Strategy and RFPs for '06 / Carol Verret / August 2005
"Smile" is a Learned Behavior - Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret / July 2005
Revenue Management Systems -- Considerations for Evaluation / Carol Verret / June 2005
Disconnect -- Aligning the Revenue Management and Sales Strategies / Carol Verret / May 2005
Independent Hotels & Resorts; Ride the Wave or Float with the Tide? / Carol Verret / March 2005
Hospitality Sales Training Companies Reach Across the Competitive Playing Field to Combine Live Seminar Expertise with  the Convenience of the Internet / Carol Verret / January 2005
Revenue Management - The Challenge for Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / January 2005
Hotel Sales Departments -- Issues in Processes and Functionality / Carol Verret / November 2004
The GM'S Role in Revenue Management / Carol Verret / October 2004
Transforming the Hotel Sales Organization; Alignment with the New Realities of Sales / Carol Verret / August 2004
The Revenue Management Strategy - The Pre-Plan Marketing Plan / Carol Verret / July 2004
Hotel Revenue Management this Summer - a Game of Skill, Art and Most of All Nerves / Carol Verett / May 2004
What Do Meeting Planners Want? Hotel Sales Managers Want to Know! / Carol Verret / May 2004
Revenue Management -- The Integration of Revenue Drivers / Carol Verret / March 2004
CYBER SALES -- Hotel Sales in an Internet World is the New Reality / Carol Verret / February 2004
The New Realities of Hotel Sales - Focus on Revenue Generation / Carol Verret / January 2004
Hotel Sales -- Innovation in the Face of Limitations / Carol Verret / November 2003
The Good News & the Bad News; Improving Economy = New Hotel Development / Carol Verret / October 2003
Leadership - General Managers Managing the Sales Process / Carol Verret  / October 2003
When the Crystal Ball is Cloudy; Marketing Plans for 2004 / Carol Verret / July 2003
Partnership of Sales and Technology; Using Tech Tools to "Sell" the Hotels / Carol Verret  / July 2003
Back to the Basics? The Basics of Hotel Sales Have Changed! / May 2003
Creating Sales "HUNTERS": The Skill Sets Required in the New Hotel Sales Environment / April 2003
Heightened Security Requires New Strategies in Hotels Sales / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Mar 2003
Revenue Recovery - Building The ‘A’ Team in Sales / Carol Verret / January 2003
Contingency Marketing Plan – War In Iraq! / Carol Verret / November 2002
Playing the Rate Game - Positioning -- Positioning -- Positioning! / Carol Verret / October 2002
The Rate Game - Playing to Win / Carol Verret / October 2002
The Challenge of Marketing Independent Boutique Hotels / Carol Verett / August 2002
Hotel Sales in a Limited Service Environment - The Rules Have Changed / Carol Verett / August 2002
The General Manager’s Role in Sales -Chief Marketing Officer of the Hotel / Carol Verret / April 2002
100% Market Share Penetration is Not Good Enough / Carol Verett / January 2002
The Key to REVPAR Recovery –  New Business Development / Carol Verett / December  2001
Trash the 2002 Marketing Plan - And Just Start Over / Carol Verett / September 2001
How to Use Consultants Effectively –  A View From the Other Side  / Carol Verret / August 2001
How Soft Is Your Hotel's Economic Landing?  / Carol Verret / Aprl 2001
The ‘Value Proposition’: Marketing Yourself to Prospective Employees / Carol Verret / January 2001
Generation Y:  Motivating and Training a New Generation of Employees / Carol Verret / November  2000
Why Customer Service Seminars Don't Work / Carol Verret / October 2000
Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Sept 2000 
FAT, DUMB AND HAPPY – The Seasonal Boom and  Bust Cycle / Carol Verret / August 2000
Surf's Up - Ride the Wave or Miss the Boat -The Effective Use of Technology in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / July 2000 
Measuring Effectiveness of  Hotel Sales Departments / Carol Verret / June 2000
Hotel Sales Training - The Need for Immediate Results / Carol Verret/ May 2000

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