The Boutique Hotel model is more popular than ever and the big brands are taking notice in this segment. The brands see the value in the Boutique segment and want to cash in on the travelers attracted to this type of guest experience. With this segment increasing in popularity, a recent Hotel News Now article set out to define this market concluded that:
- Boutique: Unique in style, design-centric, either independent or affiliated with a smaller brand system, with 40 to 300 guestrooms.
- Lifestyle brands: Prescribed franchised products that are adapted to reflect current trends.
- Soft brands: Individualized hotels that give owners and operators the opportunity to affiliate with a major chain distribution while retaining their unique design, name and orientation.
The Big Brands have always had the advantage with national Sales and Marketing teams and the budgets to invest in technology, infrastructure and design. With the insurgence of Boutique hotels, the landscape has changed to allow the Independent Boutique Hotel to not only compete, but outperform their nemesis. Boutique Hotels have outperformed the big brands in this market with:
Service & Design Standards – From the lobby entrance to the sheet thread count, there are no surprises with a big brand. This is where a Boutique hotel can really differentiate themselves in the market and create unique guest experiences that guests are craving now.
Boutique hotels can customize hotels to their customers and location. Since these independent boutiques have flexible internal standards in both service and product, Boutique Hotels are poised to meet or exceed their flagged competitor down the street. Creating that unique guest experience travelers will post their adventures on travel review sites such as TripAdvisor for other travelers to see.
Technology –Brands are typically slow adapters to technology and this is an opportunity for the Independent Boutique to excel. Providing a robust mix of technology partners working together seamlessly to engage with guests creates the best experiences. The PMS is a strong foundation for integrating to all of the technology at the Boutiques’ disposal. In addition to the Property Management System hotels should look into incorporating technologies such as:
- Automated Guest Emails / Econcierge/Surveys
- Online Reputation Management
- Native web apps to communicate and upsell
- Self Check-In with mobile phones
- Sales & Catering
- Integrated Point of Sale
- Distribution Channel Manager
- Automated Revenue Management
With the playing field now level, it’s time for the Independent Boutique to shine and stand above the Brands using all of the tools and advantages at its disposal.