Golden Tulip, the Dutch brand that is planning to grow to a chain 1,000 strong by 2010, shrank its room count by 22% last year.
The company said that the decrease was primarily caused by brand enforcement policies but the news highlights the challenges ahead for brands not owned by one of the global giants.
Golden Tulip is by no means cut and dried already. It added 31 properties during the year to leave it with 207, down 18%. Total room count was 28,559 at the year end.
The limited service Tulip Inn brand has gathered some momentum in markets such as the UK and the core Golden Tulip full service brand has made some headway outside of its home base of the Netherlands, notably in Central Europe.
This year it is re-entering the US market, has opened an office in India via a JV with Leland Group, and added hotels in locations as diverse as Israel, Morocco and the UK.
But the group remains dependent on its local alliances. In France, the B&B Hotels chain is part of the group and so too is Germany's TOP International consortium. Golden Tulip is not the major feature of either company's promotional material.
This may change going forward, or it may end up like Golden Tulip's relationship with Norway's Rainbow Hotels that saw all its properties leave the alliance.
The other issue hounding Golden Tulip at present is the takeover of its 30% shareholder THL in Australia. SDB Hotels, part of Malaysian property developer Selangor Properties, is buying this group and it is still far from clear what will happen to the Golden Tulip relationship going forward.
It might be that Golden Tulip, which is headed by Hans Kennedie, defies the odds and hits its target of 1,000 hotels – there are certainly hundreds of weaker hotel brands out there. But it is going to be an uphill battle.