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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll report back. Read this Commentary in the 1/27/2016 issue of BLLA’s weekly newsletter, the BOUTIQUE WEEKLY.