Tourism is a key driver for local economies, bringing in visitor dollars and supporting jobs. For smaller, secondary markets that are traditionally overlooked, recent increases in tourism have helped create healthy opportunities for independent hotels to thrive. With more travelers, especially younger generations, opting for off-the-beaten path destinations ( and unique and memorable experiences, independent hotels have an opportunity to capitalize on the growing interest in these second-tier markets.

For the third consecutive year, Expedia Group data shows that independent hotels continue to experience demand growth with a nearly 5% growth for the full year 2018.

The performance of independent hotels is particularly strong when looking beyond popular, large city destinations to smaller markets. For example, Expedia Group data shows that the following destinations demonstrated overall independent demand growth in room nights 2018:


  • Albany, NY – an increase of more than 20% YOY; under 5% for branded properties
  • Gatlinburg – Pigeon Forge, TN – an almost 20% increase YOY; nearly 10% for branded properties
  • Maine Southern Coast – a more than 15% YOY increase; around 10% for branded properties

Data shows that ADR for independents continue to increase, and for just these smaller markets, ADR increased at a pace 2x that of branded hotels:

  • Albany, NY – an incr ease of almost 15% YOY
  • Gatlinburg – Pigeon Forge, TN – a nearly 10% increase YOY
  • Maine Southern Coast – a more than 5% YOY increase

Packages continue to be a source of great opportunity for independents:

  • Albany, NY – a nearly 45% increase YOY for independent package bookings; package bookings for branded hotels experienced an almost 10% decrease for branded properties
  • Gatlinburg – Pigeon Forge, TN – a more than 40% increase YOY for independent package bookings; nearly 20% for branded package bookings
  • Maine Southern Coast – a more than 30% YOY increase for independent package bookings; package bookings for branded properties increased more than 5%

Cape Cod, MA, is another destination that showed independent demand growth in room nights in 2018, as well as a nearly 10% increase in ADR YOY. In comparison, branded properties saw an increase of nearly 5% in ADR.

Top tips for independent properties:
Like the Mansion House and Spa, independent hotels today can compete against their branded counterparts, cost efficiently, by leveraging the tools and resources of an OTA, such as Expedia Group, to help standout in their markets. In today’s digital world, online marketplaces are a popular resource among travelers, as well as an important part of any hotel’s distribution strategy, and can help convince all types of travelers to choose independent.

  • Pay attention to property reviews – Hotel guests listen to what others are saying about your property. In fact, a recent study ( found that guest ratings have a stronger influence than brand value when consumers are selecting a place to stay.
  • Stand out in a crowded marketplace – Take advantage of available performance marketing tools, such as TravelAds Sponsored Listings (https://advertising.e, to stand out among the competition and drive room night demand.
  • Recognize that content matters – Identifying your property’s brand and communicating that through your content is key to positioning your hotel in competitive markets. From eye-catching imagery to appealing videos on your website and social channels, perfecting your content will help showcase your property and make it stand out.
  • Local market expertise – Working with an OTA that provides not only the technology, but access to a committed team of experts who provide key market and competitor insights, can provide you with deeper market knowledge and a competitive edge.

About Expedia Group

Expedia Group (NASDAQ: EXPE) is the world’s travel platform. We help knock down the barriers to travel, making it easier, more enjoyable, more attainable and more accessible. We are here to bring the world within reach for customers and partners around the globe. We leverage our platform and technology capabilities across an extensive portfolio of businesses and brands to orchestrate the movement of people and the delivery of travel experiences on both a local and global basis. Our family of travel brands includes: Brand Expedia®,®, Expedia® Partner Solutions, Egencia®, trivago®, HomeAway®, VRBO®, Orbitz®, Travelocity®, Wotif®,®, ebookers®, CheapTickets®, Hotwire®, Classic Vacations®, Expedia Group™ Media Solutions,™, Expedia Local Expert®, Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®, SilverRail™, ALICE® and Traveldoo®. For more information, visit