How the Big Hotel Chains Dupe Travelers Seeking Independently-Run Lodging

As everyone who travels a lot soon learns, it’s easy to forget where you are. Those big chains uniformly offer all the charm of Noplace, USA.


This disorienting sameness has become more dizzying in recent years as the chains have merged and conglomerated.

Weary travelers might choose to stay overnight in one of the Residence Inn hotels, or a Courtyard, the TownePlace Suites, or even splurge for a night in a Ritz-Carlton. In fact, though, you’re in a Marriott — the $14-billion-a-year amalgamation that owns all of the above hotel chains, along with 15 others.

Marriott is among the world’s 10 largest hotel operators. Combined, these companies run 113 different chains.

Naturally, as uniformity and conglomeration have taken over the industry, a consumer rebellion has erupted. More and more travelers — especially younger ones — are seeking out independent hotels, unique inns, and local B&Bs. They prefer the un-corporate places that have cool names like the Moxy, Canopy, and VÄ«b.

But, oh crud, guess what? All three of those are just offshoots of corporate hotel chains that opened in the past year. These intentionally hip brands belong, respectively, to Marriott, Hilton, and Best Western.

Known in the industry as “lifestyle hotels,” these fake independent lodgings are the hot new niche for mega-conglomerates trying to nab travelers in search of authenticity. “The big hotel chains are in the business of pretending they aren’t big chains,” says Pauline Frommer, editor of the well-regarded Frommer’s travel guides. “They want you to think they are boutiques.”

It sounds sneaky. But do they think that duping customers is a good strategy? Once travelers realize we’re being deceived, we’ll get angry. And that’s bad for business.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.