Owners have more options than ever when it comes to operating their properties due to a continuous change in the landscape that separates branded hotels from independent. But, according to several panelists speaking at the 2013 International Society of Hospitality Consultants annual conference on Saturday, that landscape is more unsettled than ever. The emergence of soft brands - which is a play by major brands to allow hotel owners to keep the indigenous name of their assets while placing them on major reservation-distribution networks - has caused some murkiness when trying to define an independent hotel. So has the maturation of some hotel companies that traditionally have been viewed as independent, such as Kimpton Hotels, which have morphed into brands because of their footprints and distribution networks, said speakers on the “Is your ship required to fly a flag? Branding vs. independent” panel. “I’m not sure what a brand is versus independent at this point in time,” said Bruce Baltin, senior VP for PKF Consulting. Get the full story at HotelNewsNow