Generally speaking, the boutique hotel model allows owners to not only choose the design, style, and programming at a property, but it also gives them the opportunity to engage with the local community. Frances Kiradjian, founder and CEO of the Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA), says, “There is so much opportunity and money to be made and experiences to be created. Boutique hotels are so much more than lodging accommodations; they build communities and enrich a town’s culture.” Relating to customers wanting to engage in a location’s culture is very important. Keeping the region in mind when constructing the property, designing spaces, and engaging guests is the crux of the boutique hotel’s power.
Kiradjian also says that boutique properties give creative hoteliers an opportunity to try new things and create new connections. “While many hotel chains have a formulaic approach to expansion and distribution, boutiques are often left with more room for error because there is more creative risk involved,” she notes.
That said, creative boutique hotels aren’t just winging it. Thoughtful strategies, intense employee training, and closely monitored customer interaction are all imperative to creating the custom boutique experience. Furthermore, many boutique properties are collaborating with well-known brands, companies, and products to market to traditionally brand-minded consumers. Kiradjian explains, “Seeing the high-end, recognizable name brand as an amenity will impress guests and give them piece of mind because they’re guaranteed a quality product.”
Boutique properties now also have more channels than ever before to promote their businesses and attract more customers. BLLA’s Stay Boutique platform, on which guests will be able to book a stay at one of their member hotels, is just one of these channels. Kiradjian says that being a part of an organization like BLLA can increase a property’s credibility, and in her members’ case, boost revenue. “It’s a low-cost option to gain incremental revenue from a consumer who trusts the channel and is looking for guidance in what’s real versus what isn’t,” Kiradjian says.
Joining an organization can also introduce boutique hoteliers to new ideas, help improve operational efficiencies, and help them become a stronger member of a boutique hotel network through industry events (like BLLA’s annual investment conference) or just being connected with other like-minded hoteliers and businesses.
The boutique and lifestyle hotel segment is growing, and although it may be reshaping itself, Kiradjian predicts that it will become an even more dominant part of the industry in the next five years.