Hospitality professionals can apply the best of boutique to any and all lodging accommodations.

By Frances Kiradjian

While we are the biggest champions of boutique you'll likely come across, at BLLA, we realize the transformation of the term from differentiator to buzzword. Today, it is not uncommon to find a property touting themselves as boutique even though they're a branded chain or an economic lodging solution like a motel.

Boutique started as an underdog in the world of lodging solutions, particularly luxury accommodations. Now, after a long climb to legitimacy, professionals and non professionals in the lodging space often mistakenly attribute their property as boutique. The fantastic news is, even if you never truly can be classified as a boutique property, there are steps you can take that will bring some 4 or 5-star energy into your property, no matter the size or classification.

After many years of industry research and community surveying, BLLA has honed in on what truly gives a property the air of being "boutique". These are things any hotelier can implement, weather they're responsible for 10 keys or 300 keys:

  1. Hire a passionate staff – A dedicated, properly trained (on 5-star service) and passionate, earnest staff will ensure your guests have memorable, pleasant experiences while on property. This is the most fundamental step in building a positive reputation for your property or brand.
  2. Immerse the community – hang the work of local artists in your lobby and rooms, rent that space in the lobby to a local coffee house, host events and celebrate what makes your location special. A quintessential aspect of boutique hotels is community immersion, and you don't have to be independent to engage the locals! Remember, it's about the experience.
  3. It's all in the details – Focus on design! Boutique is unique! Design is one major tool properties can utilize to stand out. Boutique hotels live at the intersection of design and functionality. When your property is not only exciting to look at/stay in, but facilitates the lives of your guests, you have the perfect recipe for return visits.
  4. Spend on F&B – Plenty of hotel workers and managers are happy to cut costs by not focusing on the on-property food and beverage offerings and this is a major oversight. Nothing solidifies the identity of a hotel brand like a dynamite restaurant or bar. On top of being good for optics, it's convenient for patrons, and when done correctly, can add a major revenue stream for the property. Hire an F&B consultant if you need to.
  5. Learn from other boutique or lifestyle brands – new practices, ideas and technologies are introduced to the hotel market daily. Look to those independents and brands with deep pockets to do your beta testing for you, and implement tried and true managerial methods, and technologies.

Boutique is a fascinating vertical to be a part of due to our agile nature and room for creativity. Implementing any of the practices listed above can ensure higher occupancy and ADR rates, and will create a community around your brand that constantly attracts new members.