The experiential travel and outdoor recreation economy was founded, pioneered, and continues to thrive, because of the passion and commitment of independent owners and operators. Seasoned travelers understand thousands of destinations are remarkable for their natural and cultural attributes, but it is always the “people that make a place”, and those are the places guests wish to return. For every visionary travel and adventure entrepreneur, there is a unique and authentic culture organic to the staff and guests who make that destination home, and this is one of the major reasons why people develop such fierce loyalties.
So as the movement to go “local” continues to grow in popularity and influence consumer decisions, the indie set has drawn a clear distinction from their product over corporate hospitality offerings and possesses a competitive advantage that helps keep their business on the cutting edge.
If you are “indie”, and you have yet to own it in your brand DNA, here are few reasons to embrace it:
Trust: Guests are far more likely to develop trust in people than they might for entities or organizations. Indie operators are on the ground, lead from the front, and hold themselves accountable. Guests see and respect them for who they are and what they do. The friendships and bonds that often come from these interactions can become as meaningful as any a person will make in life.
Freedom & Flexibility: Big box brands and management companies want to guarantee quality and consistency across a property set in order to fill rooms, control costs, and generate ancillary revenue from their outlets. While this is all well and good for the bottom line, it does not align with what speaks to indie operators. Along with generating a reasonable profit, these mavericks are keenly focused on creating an experiential or “quality-of-life” dividend that is of mutual value to themselves, operations teams, and the guest community. In so many words, corporate groups are great at adhering to best practices and meeting standards, where indie operators have the freedom to do the right things and the flexibility to improvise under any circumstance, ultimately liberating the guest experience to levels not possible within the constructs of a systematic approach.
Community & Continuity: Indie operators and team members like to do business with the community in which they live and work. Guests can spend confidently knowing prices are not padded to funnel a line of profits off the top and destined for outside interests. Indie operators are inclined to reinvest profits back in the business as a stimulus that fuels the morale of their employees and the community of patrons in which they take pride in serving. This approach is akin to having a strong wheel upon which owners and operators can build traction to sustain and nurture their businesses through good times and bad.