Having been raised in a small family run hotel on a main road in Wolverhampton, I feel fairly well informed on the industry and have seen first hand the battle between large chains, small independent hotels/guesthouses and the rise of Air B&B's. Seeing my mother start and grow a successful business from scratch 40 years ago  I think its safe to say that she has seen a lot of change in the sector. This is what I have observed:

1) Independents can only compete on service and quality, My mothers business has been built on a foundation of reputation and repeat business based on reputation and recommendations.

2) Whilst membership questionnaires and CRM databases will help large chains gather data to improve and make tweaks to their business nothing is more effective than talking to your customers to find out what can be done better.

3) YOU CAN'T PLEASE ALL OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME, Even the Ritz has bad reviews, The likes of Trip Advisor has become a dumping ground for people off loading their bad day online. The advantage of being a large chain is the negative feed back is absorbed in the shear volume of reviews and has less impact. One or two bad reviews for an Air B&B or and Independent can take them from a number 1 slot to number 5 overnight. The question is how many of you would complain if there was something wrong with your meal Vs how many of you go out of your way to comment on how wonderful your meal was?