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With 10 Years Under its Belt, and Having Seen a Bit of Everything,
Inn Development & Management Group Offers its

Top 10 Predictions for Boutique Hotels

FORT ATKINSON, Wis. (May 2010) -- It typically takes a few decades for a company to come by the claim honestly that it has “seen it all.”  But the way the economy has behaved, it’s no stretch that Inn Development & Management (IDM Group, LLC), headquartered in Fort Atkinson, Wis. and specializing in the development and management of boutique hotels, says it’s already “seen it all” in the ten years it’s been in business.  Things like boutique hotels firmly establishing themselves as their own category of lodging, chains wanting to behave like independent hotels, the escalation of amenities, 9/11 and the recent economic downturn forcing a precipitous drop in U.S. business travel, and the new normal of value pricing.   So, to mark its 10th anniversary, the management team at IDM Group decided to put out its own list of predictions for the independent boutique hotel category.

“Despite the tsunami that was the recession in 2009, we’ve been able to stick with our business model of specializing in boutique hotels, but it’s meant being part successful soothsayer, part traveler psychologist and part economic strategist,” said Craig Neddersen, co-founder and president of IDM Group.  “As the country pulls out of this downturn, we’re predicting a mix of risk and reward for the independent hotel segment.”

Here, then, are IDM Group’s 2010 Top 10 predictions for independent boutique hotel travel:
  • There will be more to the scoreboard than (loyalty) points.  While everything seems to be point-driven these days, travelers will back away from making hotel decisions on points and lean toward places that deliver the services that are important to them, whether that’s on-premise dining, creative meeting space, a fitness center, spa or complimentary shuttle service.
  • The hotel will be as much the destination, maybe even more so, than the city itself.  This will be particularly true for historic properties, where the culture and history of the area can be made readily available to guests right at the property, or at least very nearby.  Examples include hotels with boutique retailers within a few steps of the front door that offer merchandise with a distinct local flair and entertainment and attractions that help anchor a downtown district.  The sum of these will help to create a singular experience.
  • Travelers will pay for comfort.  While conspicuous consumption will remain out, travelers still want comfort and they’ll be willing to pay for it.  Conversely, smart independent hotels will see the wisdom in not overcharging for amenities, like the soda and snacks in the mini-bar and valet parking.
  • A warm sense of style will make the connection.  A decorating style that creates a feeling of trust will be appealing in this topsy-turvy time.  Little homey touches, like a small library corner, fresh flowers and charming pieces of art will give travelers the comfort they crave.  However, hoteliers must consider a balanced approach by not scrimping on the high-tech touches travelers still expect, like wi-fi and guest-controlled thermostats in the rooms.
  • Business at boutique hotels will rebound more quickly than at other lodging segments thanks to the Internet. Independent hotels will no longer be lost in the big media budgets of the branded chains, with the Internet being the great equalizer as empowered consumers look to get the most for their discretionary dollars.
  • Higher-end hotels will corner the pet-friendly market.  Who says pet owners must be relegated to economy hotels?  These are travelers who are willing to spend more to bring along their beloved pet, and higher-end boutique hotels will be adding pet amenities to appeal to this segment.
  • Everyone will know your name thanks to a culture of service.  A cheerful and stable front desk staff will be more important than an impersonal, speedy check-in kiosk.  Staff who make it a habit to learn the names of their frequent guests will be rewarded with loyalty.
  • Independent hotels will band together to become regional “brands.”  While chains have tried to behave like the independent hotels, it’s the boutique hotels’ turn to take a cue from the franchises by forming informal regional networks where one independent hotel is happy to recommend another independent hotel it admires in a different city as a way to keep travelers in the boutique hotel fold.  This might even allow for a formalized way to offer upgrades and loyalty perks along the way.  These will be peer-recommended groupings, not pay to play, so as not to force any property to give up its “independent soul.”
  • Guests will search out insider advice.  Travelers see right through a concierge who is being slipped a little something to recommend a restaurant or show, and they don’t like being played.  Travelers will search out places where staff are trained to know and embrace the area - maybe through regular in-market “field trips” for employees - so they can get honest insider advice on what the locals like.
  • Genuine will trump gimmicky every time.  Whether it’s a new hotel or a renovated landmark, guests will gravitate toward genuine, not gimmicky.  That means making a connection to the community by sourcing locally produced products, enlisting local talent, incorporating products indigenous to the history of the area, even designing the hotel to blend seamlessly with the community landscape.  After all, what works in one market usually doesn’t work in the next.
National research firm Smith Travel Research reported the boutique hotel segment saw a positive percentage change for the first quarter of 2010 over 2009, with occupancy up more than 8% but revenue per available room (RevPAR) still trending down 4.4%.   According to Neddersen, IDM Group’s properties are currently outperforming the boutique hotel category in the U.S.
About IDM Group
IDM Group is the leading purveyor of boutique hotel development and management services in the Midwest.  It offers clients expertise in acquisition, development, repositioning and management.  In every community in which it has a presence, theirs is the leading property.

Its portfolio includes historic downtown properties like the Hotel Julien Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa; lake vacation inns such as the Edgewater Resort on Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula; and newly developed hotels including the Jefferson Street Inn in Wausau, Wis.  Properties most recently coming under IDM Group’s management include The Clarke Hotel in Waukesha, Wis. and The Delafield Hotel in Delafield, Wis.
IDM Group may be found online at

Carla Minsky

Connie Barbian
Principal, IDM Group



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