The Manna by Haus, Ascend Hotel Collection in Hahndorf, South Australia.

Recent years have seen an explosion in hotel brands as leading operators seek to fill both established and emerging gaps in the market with new labels catering to ever-narrowing niches. For hotel owners, this presents something of a conundrum.

Do you seek to appeal to the widest possible segment and try for an ‘everything to everyone’ mentality that may result in something bland and lacking in personality? Do you target what market research may identify as ‘untapped’ with something that may yield plenty of Instagram likes but may be a little too edgy for the majority? Most go for something in between, but just how far along that scale do you go?

Owners need to be quick on their feet and agile in today’s dynamic market. Things are changing fast, consumer demands can be fickle in some ways and enduring in others. And finding a hotel operator who can present an adaptable model with the flexibility to meet consumer demands in the middle can make all the difference and provide that certainty that the direction their asset is heading will be a positive one.

Hotel Harry, Ascend Hotel Collection in Sydney, New South Wales

Enter, the soft brand. For a hotel owner eager to see their property stand out from the crowd with an innovative name and design philosophy, a soft brand can provide that escape from conformity and a market edge that is both reassuring to guests and a solid expectation of a healthy return on investment.

More opportunities to align a hotel with a soft brand are presenting themselves in the owner lexicon, with many of the world’s major operators presenting a space for an independently minded hotel owner to leverage off established and proven corporate structures. In a market teeming with competition, the ability to plug in and play with an operating sales, marketing and distribution ecosystem should be irresistible to any hotel owner.

Importantly, adopting a soft brand also provides a hotel owner with the comfort and security of working with a trusted, formidable company with a reputation underscored by respect.

Choice Hotels Asia-Pac Development Director, Scott Armstrong

Choice Hotels Asia-Pac Development Director, Scott Armstrong, said soft brands deliver a unique offering where owners can enjoy total retention of the equity of their own asset identity.

“This partnership can support not only growth in additional revenue but provide significant cost efficiencies throughout many aspects of the business.

“Hotel owners are now spoilt for selection when it comes to selecting a soft brand to best compliment the distinct experience on offer from their asset,” Armstrong added.

“It can be reassuring for owners to know that through this branding platform, they are supported by a globally recognised group bringing their strength in sales revenue, distribution and marketing services whilst the property can continue to focus on providing the high level of service and localised product that is enjoyed by their guests.”

The benefits of a soft brand go deeper than just top-line branding. For a hands-on hotelier who likes to personally interact with their guests and ensure they are delivering a superior guest experience on a daily basis, having that control over the direction and design of their rooms, amenities and dining offerings can often be the factor which seals the deal.

Soft brands in favour
The Manna by Haus, Ascend Hotel Collection in Hahndorf, South Australia.

“Brand standards are more important than ever in this environment as many guests will be looking for reassurance that the standard of the hotel has checks and balances in place, particularly from a health and safety aspect,” Armstrong said.

Soft brand structures also provide the ability to link the hotel to a leading customer loyalty program, such as Choice Hotels’ Choice Privileges, opening the doors to an existing flow of customers eager to take advantage of a new way to boost and use their points balance. For hoteliers eager to make the right first impression, this can also create a steady stream of new and returning customers for life.

So, for those hoteliers looking to benefit from established and proven corporate structures while still maintaining their unique identify, the soft brand may be just the balance you’re looking for.

To Find out more about the world’s largest soft brand, Ascend Hotel Collection, download the Choice Hotels Soft Brand White Paper.