The future of boutique hotels

While boutique hotels, also called independent or lifestyle hotels, were possibly written off 10-15 years ago, it’s undeniable that these hotels are back in favor. In fact, boutique hotels are on their way to becoming the fastest-growing segment in the lodging industry.

According to recent data, the supply of lifestyle hotels grew by over 7% in 2012, but in 2017, growth for this sector was recorded at an impressive 11.5%. Between November 2015 and October 2017 bookings at boutique hotels in the US grew 43%.

Independent hotels will still be hot in the next five to ten years but what can be expected from these hotels? The Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association’s 2017 Sentiment Survey provides some useful insights into trends and future plans.

What differentiates boutique hotels from their more mainstream, big-chain competitors?

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  • Authenticity:  Authentic local flavors are important. “[Guests] want to experience the ‘place’ and not just the amenities the hotel has to offer.”
  • Nimble:  Independent hotels can respond to customer demand and market trends more quickly. These hotels are used to accomplishing a lot within tight budgets and are creative in their approach. “We can add in trends faster than chains can, as we’re more mobile – and keep reinventing ourselves.”
  • Luxury:  Boutique hotels recognize that luxury doesn’t mean expensive. There are many relevant definitions of luxury: “service that goes above and beyond,” “the ability to exceed expectations in unique crafted ways that are not expected,” and “provide something that money cannot pay for.”

And what does the future hold for boutique hotels?

  • Optimism:  Almost everyone surveyed (90%) said they are harboring plans to expand their business. 40% of those who responded said they plan to expand their business in the next 6 months.
  • More personalization and customization:  Guests are expecting more and more tailored services, including online check-in, keyless entry systems, and TV on demand. It is expected that more hotels will use guest-profiling technology to help service this growing demand.
  • Immersive experiences:  Guests are looking to immerse themselves into the destinations they are visiting. They want to feel like a local and to truly experience all that a destination has to offer.
  • “Instagrammable moments:”  Millennials are into off-the-beaten-track adventures, and Instagram inspires more of these adventures than any other social media platform. One famous example is Norway. About 800 people hiked to Norway’s picturesque Trolltunga viewpoint in 2010, while 80,000 people made the hike in 2016. This massive surge of tourism (and rescue missions for those unprepared for the 10-hour trek) was fueled in a large part by social media. Hotels are capitalizing on this by showcasing on social media what travelers can look forward to during their stay.
  • “Laid back luxury:”  As mentioned earlier, there are many definitions of luxury, and for many of today’s travelers, luxury does not mean splurging on a room upgrade or booking a 5-star hotel. Best summarized by an article in Traveller, “Luxury is about intensity and impact of the experience. It’s an exquisite, ambitious assault on the senses. … The best luxury travel operators deliver intimate, finely-calibrated experiences with a generous humility.”

Amistad Partners has a deep passion for independent hotels, seeing itself as collaborators with clients to help them use current technological and marketing solutions, as well as keep on the lookout for future solutions, to get their offering out to the market. Get in touch with any member of the sales team to discuss how Amistad can help.

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