Don’t ride the wave, be the wave!
In two short weeks, BLLA will gather the most eclectic mix of superstar speakers from every corner of the hospitality world at the Stay Boutique Leadership Conference! From hidden speakeasies to members only clubs and hotels, our speakers have centuries of executive level experience, and are joining us to usher in the next wave in boutique living.
With this conference, the Stay Boutique crew plans to disrupt hospitality in the best way possible. In an age where digital footprint is everything, and consumers hold more power than ever, it’s essential to implement new business practices that will curate an experience that a guest or patron will want to have time and time again.
Convention is the enemy of progress. What worked for a hotel, restaurant or bar twenty years ago does not apply today. One of the great benefits of being boutique is our ability to swiftly adapt to changes in market trends. Our illustrious line up of presenters will arm you with the knowledge you will need to excel in boutique.
A small sampling of what is to come this October:
With a line up like this, there’s no way you won’t gain from the knowledge that will be imparted by these leaders. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the UCLA Luskin Center from October 3rd through 5th!
This week’s articles showcase some of our presenters and their recent ventures. We are in for one heck of an event! Register today at StayBoutiqueConference.com.
A little insight is a valuable thing in the hospitality industry, and the value of comparing notes and getting an overview on the industry in general and broader trends is huge. These kinds of insights are also one of the reasons BLLA is such a useful organization to be part of for the Boutique & Lifestyle sector. And nowhere is this clearer than in our annual Sentiment Survey, an essential overview of the state of this thriving area of the hospitality industry.
We reached out to you, our ever-expanding network of more than 1,000 of the finest Boutique & Lifestyle hoteliers, to find out the truth about the state of the sector in 2017. Our questions probed to the heart of the industry and uncovered vital information about the state of play in Boutique & Lifestyle, what is working and what isn’t, key trends and information about this most exciting and vital of hospitality sectors.
The picture that emerges from all of this data is that of a Boutique & Lifestyle sector that is in better health than ever, looking to the future whilst also conscious of preserving its heritage. Our survey will serve as a vital resource in making decisions that affect the future of your business and of the industry at large.
The world of Boutique & Lifestyle Luxury hotels changes and develops at a fast pace and so these answers and insights will help us all to navigate this ever-shifting landscape in informed and savvy ways.
Commentary By: Frances Kiradjian, CEO, BLLA
Our hearts go out to all the people in Manchester who were affected by Monday’s act of terrorism.
We are all still reeling from the news of Monday night’s bomb attack on Manchester Arena in the UK, which killed 22 people and injured more than 59. Suspected at the time of writing to be an act of terrorism (a man has been arrested), the explosion follows on the heels of attacks on Paris, Brussels, Nice and elsewhere, and just like those incidents it will cause increased trepidation on the part of travelers, who fear another attack could happen any time.
As an industry, we rely on our guests experiencing a sense of security and comfort, but how can we guarantee this in a world where ideologically motivated acts of violence are becoming more and more common? And how do we deal with the fact that our own hotels could conceivably be targets for the next attack?
We certainly would be wrong to close our eyes to the threat. Unfortunately, hotels can be viewed as a soft target from a terrorist’s perspective, as places where a lot of people tend to congregate and with relatively low security. On the flip side, hoteliers are also understandably wary of seeming overly suspicious of paying guests. But there is a lot to be said for undertaking a risk assessment of your premises and taking the necessary steps to make sure that you and your guests are protected.
You might also want to update your current security setup and if necessary, hire a contractor to ensure that safe standards are met – especially if your local area is one that is considered particularly at risk of terrorist activity. And there is justification for having emergency measures in place in the unlikely event that something terrible should happen.
But with all that said, it is important not to overreact to acts of terrorism. Panic and disorder are neither effective nor pleasurable, and certainly won’t bring guests to your door. Above all, we should bear in mind that these events are newsworthy because they are exceptional; that it’s extremely likely you will never be witness to a terrorist attack. Historically speaking, we live in safe times, and life expectancy is at an all-time high.
So, it’s normal to feel shocked and outraged about what happened and it’s advisable to take whatever precautions are necessary to ensure that you and your guests are safe and happy at all times. But we should never give in to terror. That is, after all, exactly what terrorists want.
Trends come and go but it is always good to recognize those great ideas in travel and tourism that keep travelers interested and engaged. Here are a few thoughts for January 2017.
Trend 1 – Technology will continue to evolve as tech companies both inside and outside the hospitality industry create and invest in programs and processes that add value to travelers experiential stays. Luxury and boutique hotels will be the first to embrace and fund these initiatives although big brands will also step into the game. The hotel industry always seems to be last to embrace tech falling behind the air and cruise industries. Carnival Cruise Corp. just announced a ‘chip’ where cruisers can ditch room keys and other ID forms making it painless to purchase, disembark and enter their rooms.
Trend 2 – Brand redefined with personalities and popular consumer brands entering the boutique space faster and more creatively. Names such as Karl Lagerfeld, Robert DeNiro, Williams Sonoma, Restoration Hardware, Fendi, Equinox and others. In this brand redefinition era, wellness is a huge component and on the top of mind of customers so hotels must deliver on this whether through health education, exercise options, food and beverage selection, off-property programs or using sustainable products in-room and throughout the property.
Trend 3 – Cyber and Guest Security – Properties need to be armed with tools to ensure their IT systems are secure and their staff is properly trained. This will be one of the top components that hotel guests will be asking about when selecting a property and a destination.
Trend 4 – Increasing numbers of branded properties turning to small boutique brands and/or becoming totally independent, particularly with the recent mergers. This is a huge opportunity for properties to realize their own value by ‘going it alone.’ Although they are never alone when they join BLLA!
Trend 5 – Experiences – Properties like The Betsy in Miami are adding experiences to their repertoire of experiences during their stay, both inside and outside the property. Airbnb brought to light the opportunity in a big way which set off the need for boutique hotels to take a hard look at their offerings and how they’re marketing to their incoming guests and prospective customers.
What is trending in your world? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider publishing it.
Checking into a BLLA Event feels more like a welcome to a family gathering than attending a conference. Why does the association call itself a family rather than an industry?
The BLLA Family is a community and a safe haven for boutique-minded thinkers and doers. The world is quickly shifting, right before our eyes, into a place where small businesses finally get the recognition they deserve. Boutique and lifestyle hotels and small brands that are independent of very large chains are a part of this and while small, play a very large role in the shift of the evolution of lodging on a global basis.
The Family is where we experience the greatest opportunity to do good together and for the benefit of all. As spoken previously, boutique and lifestyle hotels are not in competition with each other; they are part of a very small contingent and thus, they share many things include deep vulnerabilities which they can work on together as well as great triumphs to be celebrated.
This holiday season, whether you are a hotel or lodging property or a supplier, vendor or manufacturer, show your support of BLLA by
BLLA celebrates powerful women in the Boutique & Lifestyle industry
Niki Leondakis is a phenomenal woman. She is the CEO at Commune Hotels + Resorts and she has really proven to be one of the greatest leaders in this niche of the industry. With a new merger under her belt with Destination Hotels & Resorts, it will be exciting to see what she does next!
Ariela Kiradjian, BLLA Vice President, recently spoke with Niki and discussed what her typical 24-hour day looks like. SAVE THE DATE of January 25th for the next Executive Women’s Leadership Conference in Los Angeles. To stay abreast of happenings with our women’s group of almost 10,000 globally, complete the questionnaire HERE.
How are multichannel images upping the ante for boutique hotels
In our small world of hospitality marketing, when we talk about “multichannel,” we are usually discussing ways to increase occupancy and promote to various online channels, travel agencies and consumers directly.
I recently attended a session put on by BusinessWire that provided a high level overview of multichannel images used in today’s press releases which was fascinating! The presenter walked us through a first-hand view of the new take on designing press releases using interactive images. Judging from the presentation, releases have come full circle and look nothing like the old text versions we used in days past. Don’t waste your time writing another static press release (although I’m sure there is a time and place for doing short ones).
It’s now all about utilizing multichannel promotions in one image and making it intensely interactive, allowing the reader to experience your release in the method of their choice, be it via words, videos, social media or on a static presentation.
They are called “image capsules” and allow the user to choose how they’d like to interact with your brand, whether you’re putting out a press release or sending out a promotion.
Here are some great examples of image capsules:
Here is Allianz Travel who had their Content Capsule embedded on more than 40 blogs and they have already received more than 100,000 views to the posts.
Here is also an example of a landing page for one subject, which could be your release, but includes many links to interact: http://www.nextworks.com/client/mike/verifone/verifone_landing.html
BusinessWire will be presenting at our Fall Leadership Symposium being held at UCLA’s Luskin Conference Center during Wednesday’s half day Workshop. More information and registration links are available on the conference page. The program is still under development.
You can be sure that BLLA is currently testing this new methodology for future press releases and will report back to our members on the results. In the meantime, HERE is a brochure on amplifying your press releases.
While Starwood signs the first deals, boutique and lifestyle hoteliers should seriously consider the Cuban market as an incredible opportunity to open up this unexplored frontier. Many U.S. citizens will be traveling to Cuba for the first time ever over the next five years and boutique properties have the chance to enhance the culture and ambiance of each person’s stay in this beautiful country with superior design, service, and customization that boutique consumers have come to expect and appreciate worldwide.
Starwood has officially signed the deals to take over the management of three historic properties in Havana. This is a remarkable deal since no U.S. hospitality company has been in Cuban property management in over 50 years.
This historic deal opens the door for Boutique properties to follow suit. Cuba is now wide open with sanctions being lifted leaving this market ripe for Boutique and Lifestyle hotels to bring in unique and specialized properties.
While it’s true that there is a presence of some European hotel chains, the arrival of competitors from the United States is likely to improve facilities and service in addition to lead to a surge in tourist interest from the United States. This huge step in normalizing relations between the longtime adversaries comes after President Obama’s visit to Cuba, the lifting of sanctions and restored relations between Cuba and the United States.
The first two hotels to join the Starwood properties are The Hotel Inglaterra, (to join Starwood’s Luxury Collection) and The Hotel Quinta Avenida, (to become a Four Points by Sheraton hotel.) These properties will undergo renovations and then open under their new Starwood brands later this year. Starwood has also signed a letter of intent to convert The Hotel Santa Isabel into a part of its Luxury Collection pending approval by the Treasury. (Both of the other two properties have already been approved.) This hotel overlooks Havana Harbor and former President Jimmy Carter has stayed there twice since leaving office.
The emphasis on iconic design and style, for properties in this destination, is another area where boutique properties thrive. While focusing on the small and personalized experiences, boutique properties can add so much more to the guest’s experience from service to design.
These new deals in Cuba come at an interesting time where Starwood is currently entertaining two competing bids. As of Sunday March 27th 2016 here’s the latest breakdown of the two offers:
Marriott’s Latest Offer:
- $10 billion in stock based on: $79.53 per Starwood share and a Marriott share price of $73.16
- $3.6 billion in cash
- $14.2 billion with vacation rental business
Anbang’s Latest Offer:
- $13.9 billion based on $82.75 per share in cash
- $14.8 billion with vacation rental business
Although as of March 21st 2016 Starwood had entered into an agreement with Marriott, it is likely to terminate this agreement and enter into a deal with Anbang Insurance Group. Marriott may of course up their offer, as they seem to be committed to Starwood, although it seems unlikely that they will want to increase the offer at this point.
THIS WEEK’S BLLA COMMENTARY
How do you define a boutique hotel? Do you know it by the clean yet customized quarters? Or is it the inviting staff? Maybe a signature drink? Let’s break down the top 5 qualities that make a stay inside your favorite boutique hotel so memorable.
#5 – Great Service
#4 – Design
#3 – Food & Beverage
#2 – Innovation
#1 – Customization
Good service is service that is tailored to you directly. It is service that is interpreted by the guest – not commoditized. Service recovery is also very important; things that you can fix while the guest is still on-property. Connecting, engaging and giving the customer authentic service is what’s important. Over-the-top personalized service which feels like you are the sole guest in the hotel.
Next comes design… From the cushions, to the candles to the curated look… design matters! This is a true quintessential differentiator for boutique hotels. Design is the nucleus of a boutique hotel. You have to have a functional, experiential design that offers a very personal point-of-view. Design is a huge component for your guests to share their experiences on social media.
Click Here to view the video that addresses all 5 defining features!
Founder & Chair, BLLA
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January is about to end and February – the month of love and romance – has arrived. You have only this week to plan on how to celebrate this festival of love, called Valentine’s Day, with your beloved. Chocolates, gifts, flowers, champagne and cards have always been a companion, not only of this day, but of the entire Valentine’s week. You obviously want to make this day memorable and different from others. You want to do something special and outstanding. So what can be better than a place with great ambience (like a boutique hotel) where you can actually feel the love in the air? Therefore, to help you make this day memorable, we suggest some of the great boutiques below where you can spend some quality time together.
This place is offering you an irresistible package including dinner and stay at their luxury boutique hotel. They have total of sixteen luxurious rooms. A comfortable stay with your loved one will give you immense private time. In the morning they serve you with delicious continental breakfast. They offer you three course dinners at a brilliant restaurant in New Jersey. To make it romantic for you they not only give you Veuve Clicquot champagne bottle but also add sweetness with chocolate covered strawberries.
This place has named the package beautifully “Just the two of us”. They surely know the importance of privacy on Valentine’s Day. Your overnight stay in this hotel will surely help you create wonders for your love life. This hotel is next to Fenway Park where the two of you can go for a romantic walk hand in hand. You get complementary valet parking which makes you feel valued. Roses have always been a sign of love and you get the entire Rose Garden nearby. You also get premium champagne and chocolates when you check in the hotel.
Tasty full American breakfast is served for two at the Tavern. On your arrival, they greet you with a bottle of champagne in your spacious room. Doesn’t it sound mesmerizing? Also, strawberries covered with chocolate are served for you two love birds. They understand that you want to make the most of it, which is why on request they can arrange early check in and late checkout. They give you ample time to explore love. You will be totally delighted with the service provided by them.
This hotel, which is across from a beautiful beach, will give you both enough time to enjoy each other’s company sitting on the beach side. They have offered you a two night package to celebrate Valentine’s Day and welcome you with champagne. Also, you enjoy the interiors in luxurious accommodations. To enjoy the beach they provide two beach chaise lounges and umbrella. Their tasty food keeps your taste buds satisfied. You also get their Betsy Moment Couple’s massage. To keep your memories fresh, they gift you with the Betsy canvas bag when you check out from the hotel.
Looking for a way to get away from the hectic city life? If yes, this place which is located at Pennsylvania’s countryside is just perfect to redefine your love. They offer various packages for you to choose from as per your wish. You can have a special couple massage to rejuvenate you and your love for each other. Prearranged rose petal baths will truly pamper and refresh you. A dozen red roses for your beloved and champagne for you two will add up to your excitement and the strawberries covered with chocolate will pump the mood. To sum up you can have a lifetime experience at this place and can make your valentine’s a special one.
If you want to have a mind blowing Valentine Day celebration, surely you can book a package at this place. Get lavish accommodation and voucher for signature cocktail with one seafood tasting plate for two. Both of you can enjoy a complete American breakfast at Rowes Wharf Sea Grille along with the ice skating on the Rotunda Rink. You can even lighten up your mind by attending the Boston Wine festival. Staying at this place will make you forget all the worries and only love will float in your mind.
This hotel leaves you with too much time to be involved with each other and to focus on each other. You get comfortable stay here. Luxurious spacious accommodations where you feel relaxed and can enjoy with your valentine. Hotel offers you lovely pink Champagne bottle to have a toast on Valentine’s Day. You are delighted by the beautiful pink flowers which are delivered to your room. Surely they do not forget the chocolates at all. Your package includes the dinner for two as well. Even if you need anything else the courteous staff is always there to assist you.
You can gift a romantic escape to your valentine. Here you get spacious accommodation in the form of suites and can choose between beautiful Hardenberg Terrace Suite and The Royal Plaza Suite. They provide you couple massage to smoothen your nerves and mood. Whether you are an early riser or a one which gets up lazily you can relish a tasty breakfast in bed. You both can even get involved in chocolate tasting with executive pastry chef. Champagne and chocolates are always there to brighten up your mood. This package also includes a piece of jewelry from the legacy collection. They will make your stay unforgettable by their awesome service.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day all you need is love and your beloved by your side. Rest assured, all these hotels will take care of you. All you need to do is to make a choice and go in for an unforgettable and memorable celebration. At these places you will celebrate love and companionship in an entirely mesmerizing way, the memories of which you will cherish for a lifetime.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
While the charming marriage of Destination Hotels and Resorts to Commune Hotels + Resorts took place this week, at the other end of the spectrum the boutique lifestyle sector seemed almost doomed – at least according to a report by Travel Weekly. The publication stated that the sector was in “a state of flux” with a few small brands having varying degrees of change, such as Morgans, Ace and SLS, each going through their own issues. (We love Travel Weekly by the way.)
I remember when Morgan’s touted “our clients will run far away if they believe we’re a brand” which was saying a lot for the clear definition of boutique hotels being individual establishments with their own DNA.
Having slick furniture and a model behind the front desk will no longer present a sustainable competitive advantage. So what does give the boutique and lifestyle sector its competitive advantage?
First of all, it is more important than ever to focus on the experience. Boutique and luxury property customers return to their favorite properties because of the uniquely individualized upscale experiences. Properties that encompass the culture and environment of their location provide a connection that reaches beyond the highly formulaic hotel chain “alternatives”. Additionally, embracing a personal connection with your guests and staying attuned to their feedback provides distinct advantage over the large scale corporate chain conglomerates.
The industry is definitely shifting, but as long as the boutique and lifestyle sector continues to emphasize its strengths, we will rise above the rest. We’d love to hear from you on this subject. Email email@example.com and we’ll report back. Read this Commentary in the 1/27/2016 issue of BLLA’s weekly newsletter, the BOUTIQUE WEEKLY.
Contributed by: Darlene Rondeau, Leonardo
Search will always be important to hotels no matter what the trend of the day may be. In fact, understanding search has become more important than ever for hoteliers who want to increase direct bookings and bypass the high priced commissions paid to OTA’s.
As search engine real-estate has become more cluttered, so has the customer path to purchase. Google also redesigned their results pages adding a direct booking option reducing visibility above the fold for “organic” a.k.a. free search.
Today’s consumer is spending more time searching on mobile devices, and in-destination, which raises the importance to adopt SEO best practices for accommodation providers.
As a result, property websites must be found for searches beyond “Hotel + [Destination]” category keywords, but also for search terms that may include:
“Things to do in [destination]” – insert keywords like “tours” and “where to eat” (if the hotel has a restaurant) or content about proximity to popular attractions or terms that are searched often “near [Destination] airport” “near Hospital” “[Destination] convention centre” etc.
TIP: The home page isn’t the only page that can be indexed in search – optimize multiple pages of the website to be found for different keywords. If your property is located close to a popular icon, service or area of your city, use content to reflect that. This tells both the search engine, as well as the hotel shopper what differentiates you from the competition.
“We’re packing our lederhosen! On Jan. 25 & 27 Leonardo is going to Berlin and Munich to talk about visual storytelling ideas and marketing strategies for your hotel’s website. Register here.“
 Google Think Travel Research “Searches resulting from hotels has increased by 49% in 2015 over 2014.”
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