LOS ANGELES—The Boutique Hotel Investment Conference 2021 by BLLA was an informative conference for attendees, the association’s leadership, and the program planning committee. The nearly 100 speakers lead participants through the twists and turns of buying, investing, and operating popular and promising boutique hotels. The opportunities presented through presentations, discussions, debates, case studies, mentorship circles, and fireside chats showed that the segment is booming.
Speakers hit on everything from why to invest to how to invest, including educational sessions directed at seasoned and first-time independent hotel owners/developers and more than 100 hospitality students from a university in Switzerland attending the conference. Keynote Speaker Ian Schrager provided an update on his focus and the PUBLIC Hotel. The newly refreshed property in Manhattan is re-opening on June 15th and it will be a new design and new beginning for the brand.
“The whole restaurant, the whole ground floor has been taken to a new level, a completely different cuisine. Just everything completely different including design. And we have a real surprise downstairs in the multimedia entertainment space. It will blow everyone away,” said Schrager.
BLLA offered owners and developers an opportunity to present their hotel projects during the conference. The projects included a project in Patagonia, Argentina, a boutique hotel in Hudson, New York, and a boutique hotel in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico catering to the LGBTQIA+ community. This concept of presenting is being repeated in the fall.
Many of the session leaders shared that the future of hospitality is boutique. Keynote speaker, Gilda Perez-Alvarado, global CEO, JLL Hotels & Hospitality, stated, “The boutique hotel space is so strongly positioned to do incredibly well and to recover much quicker than the rest of the industry.” She explained that it is “that human element—that local element” that attracts customers and motivates them to keep coming back. A human connection forms the basis for boutique hospitality, and this need for an authentic and intimate sector is becoming prominent.
Attendees were given access to a platform to engage and connect with like-minded professionals. Through virtual speed dating sessions, participants were encouraged to network and connect with potential clients, investors, and collaborators. This opportunity for growth expanded upon the concept of community was a key theme throughout the conference.
“I am personally so proud of our team and their valiant efforts to pull off a seamless digital event. It is not easy these days to keep the attention of people. BLLA had a similar success factor last September, so with practice comes perfection; basically no different than live events,” stated Frances Kiradjian, founder and CEO, BLLA. “Our sponsors, speakers, members, and guests really stepped up to fully participate in the day and a half of activities. We carry on—being the leader of the boutique lifestyle and for that, we take our jobs very seriously.”
“The topics covered were vital for the growth of boutique hotels in the United States and across the world. Experts banded together to share ideas, strategies, and support each other with an open mind. It was beautiful to see the community come together to create a vibrant and productive space focused on investment. Creating boutique hotels is an art that takes a special skill to execute properly—this is something that BLLA focuses on when creating the conference agenda,” stated Ariela Kiradjian, COO of BLLA and co-founder of StayBoutique. “We were also excited to present Jonathan Falik of JF Capital Advisors with the first-ever BLLA Legends Award for his unwavering commitment to the association.”