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Why is it that the trends must always start on the coasts and get to us here in the Midwest later? We'll not all of us in the Midwest are followers, in fact IDM boasts being a leader in the boutique arena. So here is the program, get with it, success. Choose not to…and your guests (or the lack there of) will clue you in.

10. Points are Pointless! Focus on service get over the points- we are overstimulated with points; points at the grocery store, points at the sandwich shop, points for every credit card, debit card, and loyalty program. The fact is that true boutiques can't compete head on for points with the big brands, and we shouldn't want to. Let's stay focused on top tier hospitality and a great product, and yes service.

9. Use it or lose it! Embrace social media battle - Millennials are and will continue to be a core consumer of hotel accommodations and they are vocal about what they want and tend to spend more for the experience. By vocal I mean they will tell their "friends" via Twitter, Facebook, Yelp or TripAdvisor to air their complaints. Head them off at the pass, in boutiques; spend time on the floor and not in your office. Talk to consumers! Use pre and post stay points of contact to communicate with guests. Encouraging guests to post their positive experience, and offering communication we have experienced reduced negative posts by over 20%, just given the ability to communicate directly. Great partners like Revinate make our managers lives a little easier. 

8. Take a Chance - They say imitation is the best form of flattery.  Copying another great idea that you saw in action and putting a local or branded twist on it can create a different experience.  Even the corporate traveler who is in a hotel 3 nights a week every week of the year wants to "shake it up" with a hint of something unique.  Boutiques do this well.  Be it a welcome greeting, a unique appetizer, a uniform element, a signature drink, or just how the towels are tucked.  Don't get stuck in a rut and don't think you have to re-create the wheel……take a chance.

7. Build it right and they just might come -We (in the Midwest) deserve cool too…damn it! Development is on the uptick and the consumer is looking for unique and boutique, and we will deliver. Historic, boutique, location, embrace what you have to offer and share why it is special.

6. Hipsters are setting the bar, not just sitting at it. The Urban dictionary has this definition for Hipster: "Hipsters are a subculture…(of individuals) in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. Once certain concepts …. have reached mainstream audiences, hipsters move on to something new and improved."- Lesson to be learned= don't be mainstream, be what you are independent and boutique; we also suggest hiring a few Hipsters, they inspire diversity.

5. Restaurants setting the Bar! Better plate's inspire better beds…Local restaurant trends will demand better hotel experiences. With farm to table being a focus in the restaurant industry, meaning locally sourced products, people look for regional excellence in their cuisine; hotels will too follow and look for design inspired locally. Boutique and unique, will mean something regionally and not be an industry standard, yet a redefining indicator.

4. Over deliver; don't over charge…remember the 90's when every hotel was boasting your home away from home? Well it's still relevant and it should be better than home! Travelers WANT big TV's, the bigger the better, HD Channel Service, great beds, big towels and mini bars stocked with all kinds of reasonably priced local goodies… that we don't need quarters for and we can grab while in our skivvies! Home sweet Home- where expectations, price and value all align!

3. Technology??- while some say now is better and speed is of upmost importance in our industry… Fast booking, fast check-in, lighting fast Wi-Fi, fast breakfast, and fast reviews…whew! As all mandatory needs of travelers today …we say WHAT!? Technology must work, service should embrace hospitality and consider delivering a memory worthy of sharing (fast) on social media. If you have something special to offer guests will slow down (not stop) and smell the roses, live in the moment... 

2. Stop telling us how great you are, show us-Refocused your attention on websites- boutiques are special, so should your website. Ever look at a hotel site that shares the seasonal reasons to visit? Hotels need to create and share immediate and relevant content to engage and inspire travel if you want to be recognized moving forward. Whens the last time your hotel updated its pictures or video? Hell our phones take better photos than some website pictures. Oh, yea, hire a professional to do the work, it will show. I forgot to mention, make it mobile too; research by industry leaders stated in early 2014, nearly 40% of hotel websites are not mobile friendly.

1. Independent, boutique, or Lifestyle- call it what you will, but it's all about the people and culture is at the core! Build a culture unique to your hotel, not just a team… By creating an honest, impressive, unique guest experience that exceeds all expectations, you will keep the customer and the associates.

Trends are the opinions of and the IDM Team written by Sean Skellie, Partner of IDM.  

About IDM Group

IDM Group specializes in market analysis for both planned and existing hotels as well as hotel development, acquisition, repositioning and management.  Other properties in the firm's portfolio include HotelRED in Madison, Wis., the Jefferson Street Inn in Wausau, Wis., the Beloit Inn in Beloit, Wis., and Hotel Julien Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa, Hotel Marshfield in Marshfield Wis., Plaza Hotel & Residence, Milwaukee Wis. and several resorts throughout Wisconsin.   IDM Group may be found online at

Contact: Sean Skellie / 608.819.3063

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October 28, 2014 8:26am

Peter says:

Seemingly, every hotel group is focusing more and more on the material side of the guest experience and on perfecting the efficiency of their standards in order to create an emotional connection with their guests. Hospitality has been downgraded to a material concept and corporate offices see nothing wrong with this. Knowing how to increase the energy of love, loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care will create the elusive emotional connection, not material items, like Champagne, chocolate, etc.

Corporate Offices seem to think that you create a heart-based, emotional connection with a human being by “throwing” loads of amenities and freebies at them – a Dream Minibar, free bikes, in-room workout kits and equipment, free children snacks and pet meals, a bedtime snack bar, tailored “this and that”, hi-so brand bathroom amenities, iPads, free shirt pressing, etc.

Hotel groups want to create an emotional connection with their customers, but they clearly do not know how to do this. We know that material things do not make a lasting emotional connection or increase one’s happiness longer than momentarily. The energy of emotion is what makes human beings happy; emotions, such as loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. These used to be the essential core values of hospitality before it was
westernised and corporatised, and all feeling was removed by clinically clean SOP manuals. It is high time to change the current, obsolete paradigm about hospitality and about what a guest experience should be.

Emotion is energy. Love is the strongest emotion. You make an emotional connection through loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. When you use ancient knowledge about energy, and knowledge from heart energy and thought energy research, and quantum science, you can create an energetic guest experience, which transforms the energy of the staff, the property, and the guests; unleashes the limitless love in staff; and increases the softness, gentleness, warmth, and the emotional / energetic feeling of the
guest experience. Both staff and guests feel happier. The feelings and emotional connection you can create in an energetic guest experience are a far cry from the materialistic, corporate concept of hospitality.

I realize that it is not “corporate” or politically respectable for corporate offices to dare to consider this kind of guest experience, but it works and makes a lot of money for hotels that do. Loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care create much more of an emotional connection than freebies, and they are what human beings want and need most. Maybe best of all, if the hotel group creates it properly, an energetic guest experience will increase its revenue and attract more shareholders.

The use of energy to create the guest experience is the only direction, which the hotel industry has not looked at. This will change, and one day using energy will be the way the guest experience is created. The hotel groups, which fail or refuse to make the change, will fade away. Turbulent days of change lie ahead for the hotel industry.

Peter McAlpine