Hotel chains, on one hand, provide reservations support, marketing, guest loyalty programs, brand standards (i.e. quality assurance) and lender comfort—but at a cost. Independents, on the other hand, provide freedom and a sense of uniqueness—but without the support of a major affiliation. A set of panelists set out to parse the respective pros and cons of either approach during a breakout session at last week’s Hotel Data Conference. In general, the U.S. hotel industry has tended to favor the chain approach during the past 20 years, according to data from STR, the parent company of In 1990, only 57% of the country’s room supply was branded. Today, that number is 70%. Get the full story at