Can independents compete with the bigger brands?

Written by on 3rd June 2014
Category: Business Travel

There’s an emphasis across the board on building a brand and projecting a company’s image to pull in more business. From luxury clothing brands to market stalls, the majority of businesses in any kind of industry are concerned about building a memorable and influential name. In the serviced apartment sector, there’s an emphasis on the benefits of establishing yourself as a well-known organisation within the industry, but there’s also many success stories from a multitude of independent, boutique-style companies. As the industry grows so will the image behind some of the bigger brands and this could possibly overshadow some of the smaller, independent businesses. So how do they compete?

The general perception is that independents are in a weaker position; however, capitalising on the advantages of working within a smaller scale organisation can reap its rewards. Independents can offer fast and personalised service, without having to go through multiple stages of decision making. A quick response helps customers receive a tailored and flexible service in the quickest possible time. Although bigger brands often enjoy the benefits of economies of scale, they rarely offer unique personalisation and the brand is usually standardised. For regular travellers who come to expect a certain service from a familiar brand, this can be ideal. This isn’t to say bigger brands can’t personalise their product or service either. COMO, for example, considers extra elements, such as homemade toiletries and gourmet food, adding an extra touch to their service.

As the industry for international serviced apartments grows, a separation between the independents and brands could possibly grow. Large brands are able to compete on cost and are often a well-known name that customers trust. Independents have a lot to offer big companies and vice versa, as each side meet the needs of different parts of the market. For the serviced apartment sector to move forward, every facet of the industry must be encouraged to support one another and raise awareness. This can be done by working together in conjunction with associations such as the HBAA. Maybe it’s not about competing, and more about working together to drive business for everyone involved.