Your hotel strategy; the local versus the chains?

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  SimonRowberry 27 Sep 2009
at 16:33
.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)

  • Anonymous

    Senator
    Participant

    Hi all,

    In the last year, my travel habits have changed. I used to leave ARN on a Monday on a four day, four city European trip with new hotels every night. Now, I am more on six-seven day trips to one location staying at the same hotel for the entire stay.

    I have a Hilton Diamond VIP and a Starwood Gold card, and many of my stays have been spread across other hotels this year. I have re-qualified for the same levels next year.

    While free breakfast and upgrades (at Hilton) is appreciated, I am wondering about my future strategy. I find that smaller, local, boutique hotels provide a better experience. What is your strategy? Local versus chain/corporates?


    SimonRowberry
    Participant

    A mix, Senator, like you. I have the same status levels in the same chains as you. I tend to favour Hilton due to the upgrade facility, and use Starwood where Hilton aren’t represented. Hilton’s award nights are also a major reason – I’ve had 6 free nights this month alone and no problems with availability at all. I also use Radisson SAS/Blu quite often too as I’m a SAS EuroBonus Gold member so get upgrades etc.

    I also use ‘local’ hotels quite often. The problem is that it can be a bit ‘hit and miss’ unless you have a recommendation from someone (on this Forum, for example). Sometimes I have no choice as a Client is paying directly and has made the reservation on my behalf. The risk is also a lack of ‘expected standards’ when you are a regular chain guest and are therefore used to a certain minimum standard of accommodation and service.

    Prices can also be higher in ‘local’ hotels, as they don’t have the same sophisticated yield management systems that some chains have (mind you, that can also work in your favour) and you can sometimes feel you’ve paid considerable more for considerably less.

    I therefore tend to form alliances with smaller national or regional chains where possible. For example, Lady Hamilton/Lord Nelson in Stockholm, Hotel du Vin in the UK – this can help keep rates down and get you some ‘frequent traveller-type’ privileges.

    The chain I’ve learned to avoid is Best Western. This, as you know, is effectively an alliance of independently-owned hotels. Some are superb; some are the opposite. However, it doesn’t work in terms of standards in the same way that a ‘normal’ chain would. I still look at their website when needing to book at a location where I need a ‘local’ hotel. But I then explore the hotel’s own website and look at reviews on other Forums before making a booking.

    For example, I’m going soon to Ljubljana and Maribor in Slovenia, where there are no major chains. I’m staying at a local chain in Ljubljana and a wholly independent hotel in Maribor. I checked out both hotels thoroughly (as far as you ever can be truly thorough on the internet) before booking. Even so, I am prepared to be possibly disappointed in both cases, or perhaps be really impressed. It’s the risk you take; but you also take that risk to some extent with chain hotels too!

    I hope this helps, Senator. Cheers, Simon


    NTarrant
    Participant

    I used to go for local hotels up until about ten years ago but like Simon found that sometimes the standard verses price can be uncomparable. I joined Accor Favorite Guest as I spent some time in France, Belgium and Holland and places in the UK i visit had either Ibis or Novotel. Proir to this I used Travel Inn but was disappointed that they did not have a loyalty scheme which convinced me to move to Accor.

    When on a few occasions I could not get Accor brands I joined Priorty Club which opened a new world for me. A colleague spoke of how he had enjoyed Hilton, just as a Hilton Gold VIP dropped on my mat, so I tried it and have not looked back, I was amazed at points and BA miles. It happened just as I was having a battle with Accor in getting points credited for a stay in the Sofitel in Dubai which took 11 months to be credited!

    I now only have one Accor site I use and my order of preference is Hilton, priority Club, Radisson, Accor then whatever else is available. Certainly the loyal scheme has played a big part in my hotel choices, but when you check in at a hotel I think you like to know what standard the room is going to be and usually if you stick with a choice chain(s) then you know what you are going to get. If things don’t meet expectations usually they are rectified without too much trouble


    Hess963
    Participant

    Hi everyone !!

    I fully comply to my predecessor’s views. While everyone of us have different experiences with the big chains and their loyalty programmes–in general they are still good. I prefer Priority Club and Starwood Preferred–as I have not encountered any problems in being recognized as a member and getting the benefits I deserve–Unfortunately the highly praised Hilton Honors and Accor AClub were the contrary of my nice experiences.

    I would recommend a good and sensible choice and mix of hotel brands within the major loyalty programmes and some local accomodations. Sometimes just giving a boutique hotel or serviced appartement a try could be a very nice experience in the end and you really forget all those perks from any programmes.


    SimonRowberry
    Participant

    just proved my point about sometimes being diappointed when staying at a chain, even when a tier member.

    Just stayed at Hilton Newport, South Wales last night (Sat). Room was lousy (very few of the lights worked) and the breakfast was terrible. My wife commented that if this was the first Hilton someone had stayed in, they’d avoid the chain in future. Guess there are good and bad, both chain at local!

    Ps Yes VK, not bad at all!


    Senator
    Participant

    Thanks for the feedback. I have been extremely happy with Hilton and HH Diamond VIP for a long time. However, in the last year I’ve had three less than optimal stays,
    Hilton New York – Ave of Americas
    Hilton Metropole – London
    Hilton Dublin

    Neither of these places made me feel like a “special” guest compared to some of the local, smaller hotels I have visited. And perhaps that is the point, the Metropole and the NYC are gigantic hotels… Perhaps too big to give any special attention.

    I just spent one night at Hilton ZRH which is always excellent, and five nights at Sheraton Golf in Rome (dreadful).

    I think VK makes a good point, no status card makes up for poor bed, rubbish food, and no facilities.


    NTarrant
    Participant

    The Charelmont Hilton in Dublin which I stayed at the begining of the year was excellent, a superb breakfast comfortable room and very friendly staff.

    I stayed at the Hilton Euston once and when I arrived at 2200 the room was not made up from the last guest. The receptionsit chap insisted I went to the bar for a complimentry drink almost to the point of frog marching me. I didn’t want a drink just to get to bed after a long day. The breakfast was dire too.

    But then there will be those that don’t meet the standards and it is very frustrating when they don’t. If you are in South wales again Simon, can recomend the Hilton in Cardiff which was very good when I stayed in August.


    SimonRowberry
    Participant

    Cheers, N, I know the Cardiff property too and it is good – it was just an additional few miles away down the M4, which I didn’t want to drive, as I’d chosen Newport as the nearest chain hotel to Monmouth, where I was at a concert on Sat night. Ironically, when I was in Monmouth, I saw there was a Wetherspoon’s hotel and pub, with doubles for 50 quid; frankly, it couldn’t have been worse than the Hilton Newport.

    Some more details on last night’s abysmal stay. We checked in at 23.30 and were offered complimentary breakfast and a newspaper. When we got to the room, the bedside lights didn’t work and nor did the main light on the bathroom (we were told that maintenance weren’t available at that time of night) – the bulbs had expired; it wasn’t a question of not having switched the master switch on (before VK suggests that). The complimentary newspaper didn’t arrive in the morning. Sleep was difficult due to the slamming of the noisy firedoors in the corridor and someone re-arranging the furniture, seemingly, in the room directly above.

    At breakfast, our room number wasn’t registered for complimentary breakfast. We were seated by a waiter and then no-one came back for a long time to take tea/coffee/toast orders. In the end we had to go up to a waiter and ask. When the coffee came it was some awful cheap brand and totally undrinkable. The buffet itself was very tired, few choices and just truly awful. It made me nostalgic for the days of Little Chef.

    To cap it all, when we checked out we were told that breakfast was not included in the rate.

    This illustrates the differences one can find even between chain hotels. I stayed in the Hilton Antwerp a couple of weeks ago and it was truly wonderful, with the best Executive Lounge of any Hilton I’ve visited in Europe. The difference between Newport and Antwerp was like between Formule 1 and Four Seasons (I exaggerate, but not much).

    I wish now, in retrospect, that I’d taken a chance on a ‘local’ hotel in Monmouth or Ross, after all (even Wetherspoons), rather than stick with my trusty and favourite chain. I’ve got the Hilton Olympia and Trafalgar Hilton in the next week, so I hope these are better!


    SimonRowberry
    Participant

    For the avoidance of doubt. I should’ve made it clear that the Wetherspoon’s in Monmouth was offering double ROOMS for £50, as opposed to their usual type of doubles! (For non-UK residents, Wetherspoon’s is a pub chain with rediculously low prices).

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