Like all hotel brands, independents have been dealing with the same pandemic fallout that accompanies months upon months without revenue. As travel demand surges, they’re also dealing with the same labor shortages that other hospitality brands are facing as well. But they’re also usually facing these challenges without the resources of big brands backing them, such as technology that can streamline operations, reduce costs and recruit new hires.
But independent hotels need not despair. One brand, Curator Hotel & Resort Collection, is doing its best to reach out to and support independent hotels. The company works as a cooperative where independent hotels join as a member and benefit from operating agreements, services and technologies that are provided at a cost-effective price point due to its collective power of scale. (For example, the company recently announced a partnership with React Mobile, naming the panic button technology provider a preferred vendor.)
To learn more about what Curator is doing for the hospitality industry, Hospitality Technology spoke with Austin Segal, Vice President, Curator Hotel & Resort Collection.
How is Curator a resource for independent hotels?
Curator was born out of a market need. As consumer desire for unique hotel experiences is increasing, independent hotels are on the decline. More and more independent hotels are being acquired by big brands each week due to rising operational costs and the fact that they just can’t compete on their own. Curator offers indies an alternative to brand affiliation that just didn’t exist previously.
The founding members of Curator—Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, Davidson Hospitality Group, Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Provenance, Sage Hospitality Group, Viceroy Hotels & Resorts and Springboard Hospitality – represent a significant share of the independent hotel market and have long been considered as leaders in the industry. To get the word out about Curator, we have leveraged our partnerships with trusted vendors and service providers in the independent space to reach hoteliers and operators. We have also maintained a steady drumbeat of press announcements, social media outreach, and participation in thought-leadership events to tell our story and what we can offer to indie hotels. We estimate more than 2,000 indie hotels in the U.S. alone that could benefit from Curator’s programs and benefits – and we plan to reach out to each and every one of them.
How can Curator help independents with their technology needs?
Building a technology stack for an independent hotel is one of the most costly and challenging things a hotel owner has to do. There are hundreds of systems out there, each with strengths and weaknesses and not enough hours in the day for a hotel to evaluate, negotiate and install them. Curator aims to help hotels by doing most of the legwork for them. We’ve sat through the demos, run the RFPs, asked the questions, talked to references, run pilot tests and negotiated best-in-market pricing. We aim to make the technology selection process turnkey and seamless, while still providing hoteliers the flexibility to work with who they want to work with. In addition, Curator keeps a pulse on the latest technology developments and seeks out up and coming providers that we can partner with to mutually grow. There are some great new products out there, but for a startup to get an audience with a lot of independent hotels can be a challenge. Curator has been making these connections at scale and bringing together our partners to help drive development roadmaps and build the systems that our member hotels want to use.
What kind of improvements and progress have hotels helped by Curator demonstrated?
There are obviously significant cost benefits to negotiating together and consolidating volume. We’ve helped our members save a lot of money on some of the core systems that they need. In exchange, our vendor partners have received new business opportunities as well as locked in and strengthened relationships with existing clients. As I said, we’ve also brought some new and relatively unknown systems to our members. These systems can save a lot of money, but they are also more agile companies compared to larger legacy providers. This means Curator and its members can help to shape the products to meet their needs, have direct representation and connection to their executives and get priority support. This type of access and attention would be impossible for most independents standing on their own.
Why should independent hotels consider joining Curator?
At a time when consolidation is so prevalent, Curator aims to create an alternative solution for independent hotels so they can compete and thrive. In order to offer the most compelling pricing with best-in-class vendors and service providers, Curator needs to grow its membership base and leverage its scale. The more hotels that come together to join our collective, the more advantages they’ll have together. And, ultimately, the more independent hotels that remain unique, one-of-a-kind, and exceptional, the more choices consumers will have for unforgettable hotel experiences. By working collaboratively, our hotel members can help to lift the industry as a whole.