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How Large Hotels can Bring Boutiqueness to Their Brand

March 20, 2015

 

If you have traveled as much as I have, you have stayed in all type of venues - from bed and breakfasts to hotel chains with hundreds of rooms. While each niche has its own benefits, it is fair to say that boutique hotels usually bring a sense of charm and personal touch to the guest experience while chains bring consistency and perks. 

With the recent purchase of boutique king Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants by IHG, it got me thinking that perhaps we are embarking on an era of "boutique chains".

Could this be possible?

Let's take a look at the classification of these venues, what each entity brings to the table, and most importantly, what hotel marketing staff can learn in the process. 

What is a Boutique Hotel? 

A boutique hotel describe hotels which have typically between 10 to 100 rooms and often contain luxury facilities in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Boutique hotels are often individually owned and focused on offering their services in a comfortable, intimate, and welcoming setting. 

What is a Large Chain Hotel? 

Hotel chains typically have more than 100 rooms and many use the same brand throughout the world.They adhere to strict brand standards with controls and approvals of marketing and promotional materials.The global hotel industry is dominated by hotel chains. 

Examples of Boutique Service Levels & What Chains Can Learn From It

At Jade Mountain in St. Lucia, every guest is given a cell phone with just one button, which is a direct line to the butler. 

What can hoteliers learn from this? Making it easy to get ahold of the right person with a quick turnaround time can be an issue with large hotels who have limited staff and multiple needs. While handing out cell phones is probably not an option, providing a quick way for guests to reach the right person is. This can be handled through a mobile app, text code and/or Twitter handle or hashtag. The important thing here is to provide real-time response - making your guests feel important. 

At Twin Farms in Vermont, guests can explore a private ski area because hotel staffers take them to the top of the mountain via a custom bench on the back of a snowmobile, thus avoiding long lift lines. 

What can hoteliers learn from this? 

Providing unique experiences for your guests may be hard for you to do - but may be possible for destination marketing organizations to put together. Finding out what your guests want to see and do during their visit, can help with booking hotel group business because now you are offering options that are unique to the group and personalizing their experience. 

The Mansion at MGM Grand does not have an online booking engine, you have to book your reservation the old fashioned way by calling them. In addition, they provide complimentary chauffeur rides around town and to and from the airport. 

What can hoteliers learn from this?

Having multiple ways to book their room offers guests true personalization, whether it is via the phone, email, or an online booking engine. Providing transportation to guests is very important - especially if they flew into your destination.

I was at a conference a few months ago and signed up for a wine tasting event at a local winery. When I arrived, I found out that the event was at the winery but there was not transportation to get there and the winery was 25 MILES from the hotel! Needlesstosay I did not attend this event. This is where a hotel shuttle could have come in very handy. 

Summary

If you want the look and feel of a boutique hotel, it boils down to personalized guest service. While hotel chains offer familiarity and loyalty points, many individual travelers would rather take a chance on a boutique hotel because of its intimacy and service commitments.

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