Tom Magnuson, centre, on the panel at IHIF 2018
Magnuson Hotels is expanding into the UK, and CEO Tom Magnuson at a recent panel is promising owners they’re not another brand, but a platform.
“Fundamental industry changes have been taking place in the UK,” Magnuson said. “Eight or nine years ago, it was up to 90 percent unbranded. People didn’t want to think about a brand—but there has been a huge increase in brands like Travelodge and Premier Inn, and now that 90 percent is 49 percent. The brands are tipping the scale.”
Magnuson acknowledged the UK’s long history of affiliation and association brands. “There are many classic affiliations in the UK—some of them are suffering from inflated fee structures. Our brand accommodates the uniqueness of hotels because they don’t need a standardized fit-out. It’s not so much that owners need another brand, [but that] they need a platform partner to compete against the advance of corporate brands and the impact of Airbnb,” he said. “If you have a hotel in the market in the UK you need a strength, you need more than a channel manager and an [online travel agency]. Independent hoteliers in the UK can benefit from this change. All hotels need help. If they are in a franchise they are often suffering under crushing property improvement plans, so now they can divest themselves of this fee structure.
“Customers are rejecting standardization. They are rejecting this marketing. If you can magnify your strength with a platform and make a point for uniqueness at a lower cost, then that is what we are proposing.”