The increasing popularity of “soft brands” aka independent collections in the hospitality industry has transformed the trend into commonplace.
In the last six years, six of the largest corporate chains launched a soft brand, including Marriott’s Autograph Collection in 2010; Hilton’s Curio Collection in 2014; Best Western’s BW Premier; Starwood’s second soft brand, Tribute Portfolio, in 2015; and more.

Lodging magazine writes “it may seem the best of all worlds” for independent properties that join a well-known brand: increased access to resources, buying power, investment leverage, and training prowess.

Still, it is crucial for the properties that compose the collection to maintain their unique essence if they want to keep attracting guests. After all, it is that guest expectation of “authentic, hyper-local, destination-specific experiential travel,” according to Skift, that has driven the competition between independents and global hotel brands.

Here are 5 tips on how soft branded properties truly can have the best of all worlds:

1. Expert Suppliers

Access to resources outside of local markets or generic suppliers allows your brand to remain competitive when it enters into a larger competition sphere. Chances are, your parent brand is part of a buying group, which gives you access to numerous suppliers that may have otherwise been limited. If you are required to use certain suppliers, do so. If you have choices, be sure to vet your options: Do they have experts in the hospitality industry? Do they have experts in your segment? Region? Do they offer special pricing as part of the buying group? Can they offer cost savings and reduced production time with better end products?

» LEARN ABOUT OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH AVENDRA.

2. Marketing

Your property has its own marketing materials, its own logo, its own essence. Now, so does your parent brand. How do you successfully marry the two? The simplest way: Cobranding collateral, and the requirements for such are likely solid and part of your decision as to which soft brand to partner with.

But what if you choose to refresh your brand, or what if your logo paired with your parent brand’s logo clashes? Now you have a wider pool of talent to handle your refresh, and if they know the history and standards for your parent brand, you know they have the expertise and experience to successfully manage your refresh with precision and care.

» SEE HOW WE MANAGED THE CO-BRANDING EFFORTS OF DESTINATION HOTELS.

3. Differentiate through on-trend merchandise

Your parent brand exposes your property to a wider audience. Your collateral represents you both. But your on-property amenities and merchandise is your chance to differentiate yourself from sister properties and enhance the uniqueness of your property, brand, destination, and guests. Find a partner that can intimately get to know your brand and you needs and offer you a program that reinforces your brand image.

» HAVE YOU SEEN THESE AMENITY COLLECTIONS THAT CAN BE BRANDED AND CUSTOMIZED FOR YOUR PROPERTY?

4. Access to custom ordering platforms

When you have more than your own collateral and merchandise to manage, it’s crucial to have an asset that simplifies finding, ordering, and fulfilling all the pieces that are critical to your day-to-day operations. Your parent brand needs a simple way to let you know about updated collateral while allowing your property the freedom to order when needed and the ability to add your own brand’s products to the platform.

» A BRAND PORTAL LIKE YOU’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED.

5. On-property training

The experience at your property and with your brand is what drives engagement, spend, and new and return traffic. Beyond the look and functionality of the décor and products, your employees are your property and brand ambassadors. With the parent-brand’s support, you have access to their training formula and materials while integrating information and keeping the spotlight about your own brand and property to ensure successful onboarding of your employees.

» CHECK OUT HOW THESE TRAINING MATERIALS WE COLLABORATED TO CREATE AND PRODUCE.

Being part of a ‘soft brand’ collection can merge the best of both worlds: property independence with all of the conveniences and cost savings of a large corporate program. Take full advantage of experienced partners in delivering unique guest touchpoints for just such programs and more.

» CHECK OUT HOW WE DEVELOPED A PROGRAM WITH REAL COST-SAVINGS FOR A BRANDED COLLECTION.