Belfast hotel joins major US group
July 7, 2010
A HOTEL in Belfast is one of the first to join a major US hotel group in a bid to compete with bigger hotel brands and attract potential customers. Benedicts Hotel in Belfast’s Shaftesbury Square is to link up with Magnuson Hotels – which currently represents more than 1,500 independent properties across North America. The US hotel group, which offers a free marketing service to hotels, says it can dramatically increase bookings simply by raising the visibility of members online and through the major booking systems used by travel agents worldwide.
In recent months independent hoteliers across Northern Ireland have come under increasing pressure after research showed average occupancy rates in the Province have slumped to 50.48 per cent in 2010.
The figure is even worse than the nationwide picture, which reveals the UK is in its third consecutive year of hotel occupancy decline, from 71 per cent in 2007 to just 57.76 per cent in the year to date.
The continuing slide in business and room prices has prompted Magnuson Hotels to launch in the UK – and it is promising a lifeline to beleaguered hotel owners who want to compete with the big brands but are keen to retain their brand-free independence.
Garry Gaynor, owner of the Benedicts Hotel said: “We decided to join Magnuson Hotels to increase exposure of the hotel world wide”.
Magnuson co-founder and joint CEO Tom Magnuson said: “Within just three weeks we can take a local hotel and make it global. The key to taking on big chains is to make yourself seen, and we understand that independent hoteliers often don’t feel equipped to do this.
“We certainly haven’t come over to the UK to tell people how to run their businesses. What makes Britain great is the diverse nature of its hotel stock, but we know that these businesses are under increasing pressure from the better-marketed large chains, who are forcing down prices.
“British independent hotels are run by passionate, entrepreneurial people who have built up their businesses over many years, and we want them to maintain the independence that makes them unique.”
Magnuson Hotels’ membership is free and there is no joining fee, upfront costs or fixed-term contract. Instead members pay a commission on bookings delivered by the group.
Once signed up, hoteliers are able to make their rooms visible to travel agents worldwide as well as on more than 2,000 global websites, including industry-leading sites such as Expedia and Travelocity.
“Hotel brands are becoming less relevant to consumers,” said Mr Magnuson.
“It is now estimated that less than 25 per cent of consumers have any brand loyalty in their choice of travel companies; their hotel buying criteria are primarily based upon location, quality and price. We believe the hotelier is the best person to chose their location, determine their quality and establish the price, but what we can do is ensure their offering is seen by the largest audience possible,” he added.
About Magnuson Hotels, the fastest growing hotel chain in history.
In only seven years, Magnuson Hotels headquartered in Spokane, WA has become the world’s largest independent hotel group, representing nearly 1500 hotels and a combined affiliate base with assets in excess of $5.5 Billion. One of the top 10 global hotel chains, Magnuson Hotels was the #1 Hotel Company of Inc. Magazine’s 2009 annual ranking of the 5,000 fastest growing privately owned U.S. companies. With a four year reservation sales growth of 595%, Magnuson Hotels is listed in the top 100 U.S. business services companies.