The future of boutique hotels
Friday, February 23, 2018
The hotel industry is witnessing a rapid transformation. Many attribute these changes to the advent of online bookings and Airbnb. While they have been influencing factors, the key reason is the guest.
The guest profile has changed over the years. The clear demarcations that existed between high-end luxury hospitality offerings and affordable lodgings have blurred in the process. Guests want luxury and comfort without paying the high price. They are not willing to compromise on experiences, even when they are on a budget.
Big-name hotels are trying to cope with these changing trends. Vacation rentals, on the other end of the spectrum, are offering varied, affordable options.
In between are boutique hotels, which are offering guests the exact experiences they are seeking. Despite their naysayers, boutique hotels have grown and become more popular over the years.
These are smaller establishments with an authentic feel about them, often imbibing the local culture deeply into the mix. They can create an experiential stay with comfort and subdued luxury for their guests without breaking the bank. It is no wonder they are in demand, not just by millennials but every other modern traveler.
The BLLA Boutique Hotel Sentiment Survey 2017 showed an increased optimism among boutique hotel owners. The changing trends in the industry and consumer profile have ensured that boutique hotels are here to stay.
The CBRE industry forecast for 2018 shows that boutique-lifestyle properties will enjoy the highest revenue per available room (RevPAR) and the highest average daily rate (ADR) as well. These numbers showcase guest/traveler preferences for future travel.
The robust projections are heartening for the industry. In recent years, newer and bigger names have joined the niche. Some of these brands are Virgin, Nobu, Baccarat, 21C Museum and Proper Hotels, among others. Investors realized how profitable these ventures are and dove in, for known brands and upcoming names as well.
According to Forbes, four features that dominate the success of this niche include:
Innovations in service and customer relations are the key elements of a boutique hotel. Their attention to detail extends from marketing and guest experience to the local feel. Their small business model offers them the agility to innovate as they wish and deploy new tools and technology to the mix.
They are implementing new apps and tools to facilitate guest experiences and to enable better outreach. Problem-solving is easier as they are quick to respond to customer requests and complaints. They are using big data and innovative applications to anticipate crisis and averting them. They are also using the data to customize packages per demographic groups.
The modern-day guest looks for personalized service that gives a special feel to their stay. They want to experience something unique and special only to them, something that is not just memorable but shareworthy.
In the age of social media, unless your guest feels the urge to share your services, you have failed in your marketing endeavors. The term "boutique" brings with it an imbued element of personalization. It conjures a feeling of small, intimate and unique. Guests can expect personalized service and attention, comfort and relaxation during their stay. Added to these are the enriching experiences of the local culture and cuisine.
Unlike their big brothers in business, boutique hoteliers are free to experiment. They are not bound by the red tape and conventions that encourage stagnation. They are opting for out-of-the-box partnerships that add a deeper dimension to their services.
These collaborations also allow them to reach out to untapped markets, demographics, and audiences. Big name hotel brands can learn from boutique hotels and recognize the potential behind these unique intersections. It's time to step out of the comfort zone and serve guests who hail from today’s largest demographics.
Automating the business processes has much to do with the agility and flexibility of the boutique hotels.
They have used technology to overcome limitations in their infrastructure size and resources. They use the latest apps in business to offer round-the-clock amenities that meet consumers' shifting expectations. At the same time, they maintain the intimate, high-service ethos that they are known for.
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