By Kacey Bradley
With budget airlines and bus companies sweeping not just the nation, but also the world, traveling domestically and internationally has become more feasible for almost anyone. Whereas travelers may be willing to skimp when it comes to their transportation, however, there’s one area of globetrotting where most are willing to splurge: their accommodations.
The industry is experiencing a trend toward smaller boutique hotels and away from the typical massive hotel model. Why? A few reasons. For one thing, travelers are more interested in a hotel room that they can Instagram than a space that simply has the basics, like a bed and TV. They’re also willing to forgo luxuries like a large bathroom to enjoy more creative amenities, like a common room packed with board games. Keep reading to learn a few reasons why travelers are changing the way they stay.
A Local Experience
Local, independent businesspeople typically own smaller boutique hotels. Local owners bring something special to the table. Unlike larger corporations, which typically create a team of employees around the country or sometimes the world, a local hotel owner will often hire a staff of locals. Together, this locally sourced workforce can infuse the hotel with the region’s culture and character, offering a unique experience you wouldn’t get at a cookie-cutter establishment.
For example, a contemporary hotel with local ownership may feature materials like reclaimed wood in the headboards, perhaps from a local farm, or serve food cultivated by the area’s farmers. It might also feature local crooners at the in-house restaurant or offer sips of wine from the region. More and more, travelers are gravitating toward elements like these as opposed to the traditional touches.
A Personal Touch
What’s more, when adventurers choose to stay at a boutique hotel, they usually enjoy a certain level of customer service that they won’t find anywhere else. Since the people who own and work at a boutique hotel have put their blood, sweat and tears into the business, they’re more invested than employees who feel like they’re just a number at a larger hotel chain.
Guests appreciate the staff’s extra effort, which is evident by the warm greeting they receive upon check-in. The team at a smaller hotel or B&B is also more apt to learn the guests’ names and offer them suggestions for places to eat, things to do and spots to see while they’re in town. Small differences like these can have a big impact on the quality of someone’s stay.
A Wealth of Character
When most people picture a hotel, they simply imagine a big box with windows and an overhang out front. But when you choose to stay at a unique spot, there’s really no formula for its appearance. Inns and haute motels exude character, from the architecture of the building to the careful interior design of each room — which is often totally different from the next.
One spot on the East Coast that’s known for its wealth of character is Ocean City, New Jersey. Although the seaside town offers a few larger hotels, it's mostly dotted with smaller boutique hotels and inns where visitors truly feel like a part of the local community. Many of them have been around for decades, so they have the character built right in, as well as a team who's seasoned in providing superior customer service.
A Longer List of Amenities
Whereas your average chain hotel offers amenities like a gym and a business center, smaller hotels stray from the norm in this sense, too. Their list of amenities usually includes higher-end, unexpected touches, such as top-notch bed linens with a soaring thread count and spa-quality products in the bathroom. They may even have a rooftop pool, a billiards room or another unique source of entertainment.
Guests may be looking for a yoga class to start their morning, a boutique wine bar that’s right downstairs or a continental breakfast with locally baked muffins. Smaller hotels can provide amenities like these, which sets them apart from the crowd. So, although these types of patrons probably won’t care if their room is on the smaller side, they will notice whether there are any gluten-free options at the breakfast buffet and if the person at the front desk smiles when they say hello.
With smaller, boutique-style hotels, inns and B&Bs trending in the industry, expect to see owners and management teams getting more and more creative with their approaches to accommodations. Hotels are no longer just a place to lay your head, but an extension of the traveling experience. With this knowledge in mind, it might be time to take your amenities or customer service to the next level. If they haven’t yet, customers in the coming years will begin to demand it. So, stay ahead of this breaking trend!