Hotels go virtual - Outsourcing as you sleep
Reservations are plunging, but virtual hotel chains should escape the worst
YOU book a room on the website of a famous international hotel chain. As you arrive to check in, its reassuring brand name is above the door. Its logo is everywhere: on the staff uniforms, the stationery, the carpets. But the hotel is owned by someone else—often an individual or an investment fund—who has taken out a franchise on the brand. The owner may also be delegating the running of the hotel, either to the company that owns the brand or to another management firm altogether. The bricks-and-mortar may be leased from a property firm. In some cases, yet another company may be supplying most of the staff, and an outside caterer may run the restaurants. Welcome to the virtual hotel.