One of the major challenges that independent hoteliers need to face is how to be competitive in a busy market alongside branded and big budgeted competitors. The marketing of a boutique hotel can often create or shatter the business, but the expense of acquiring enough exposure to make a difference is often beyond the pocket of many hoteliers.
In 2002, two industry experts, David Maranzana and Juan Palmada, tried to find a solution to this dilemma and founded Epoque Hotels, a marketing representation company that would bring together the best of the independently owned boutique hotels and market them as one single entity.
David Maranzana, who has an applauded background in international hotel sales and marketing, teamed up with his industry friend Palmada, who brought with him his precious know-how in operations, having run a number of Europe’s best loved hotels. The first hotel to sign with Epoque Hotels was a stylish Parisian town house hotel, The Napoleon, and since then there has been no looking back.
“Our inspiration came from simply spotting a gap in the market for representing boutique hotels; and soon after getting The Napoleon on-board a hand full of our other contacts also signed up,” explains Palmada. “In such a short time Epoque has grown rapidly, in 2006 we had reached 240 members and today the figure has reached more than 350.”
The company started with a classic line called Epoque Classic, which includes traditional, timeless and elegant boutique hotels. They soon began to expand their portfolio with a range of design-oriented properties. According to Maranzana, “it soon became clear that we had to very distinct products that needed to be marketed to different audiences. We therefore took the decision to introduce a second brand to sit alongside Epoque Hotels so that we could implement a more targeted approach that would suit both styles of properties.” As a result Avantgarde Hotels, a collection of 150 hotels in 100 different destinations was launched.
But why boutique hotels? “Because we have a passion for them and we want to help them gain market share against the competition,” clarifies Maranzana. “We love the industry and personally we would both choose smaller independent hotels with character over a larger generic chain. We find working with independent hoteliers is the best part of the job because they are so passionate about their product, and passionate about providing top of the range hospitality.”
Epoque Hotels brings on only a property if it meets their strict criteria for originality, character, charm, quality and personality. Maranzana and Palmada love how independent hotels will provide that little bit extra, be it in the service, room design or as in the case of London based hotel, The Zetter – a free hot water bottle for each for their guests.
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