What sets indies and lifestyle hotels apart?

Hotel News Now discusses how key characteristics set lifestyle brands and boutique hotels apart from the competition and help them command higher rates. 

Published by: Stephanie Ricca/Hotel News Now
Published date: April 2017

Ask a room full of 50 people to define “boutique hotel” and you’ll get 50 different answers.

But certain characteristics rise to the top of the list when experts in the boutique and lifestyle brand space get together to talk about what makes their hotels stand apart from the pack.

Speakers shared the latest thinking on what differentiates boutique and lifestyle hotels from the ever-growing world of branded hotels during a panel discussion at the recent Hunter Hotel Investment Conference.

To set the stage, moderator Kim Bardoul, partner at The Highland Group, shared some U.S. performance data that showed how independent boutique, soft brand and lifestyle hotels stack up against their more traditional branded counterparts. The Highland Group produces an annual Boutique Hotel Report that tracks performance of independent, lifestyle and soft-branded hotels in the U.S.

Collectively, Highland Group data showed that lifestyle hotels, soft-branded hotels and independent boutique hotels generated more than $15 billion in revenue in 2016 in the U.S. Compound average supply growth for those three segments has risen since 2016, and each notch annual revenue per available room that exceeds U.S. averages for industrywide performance.

To support the statistics, speakers shared four major traits that contribute to the success of these nontraditional hotel offerings.

1. Service
“It always starts with the service, regardless of what the hotel looks like,” said Jason Moskal, VP of lifestyle brands for InterContinental Hotels Group in the Americas. IHG counts Hotel Indigo, Even Hotels and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants as part of its boutique brand offerings. “It transcends into how you create culture at every touchpoint in the hotel.”

Paul Ruffino, co-founder and COO of the Delaware-based Hospitality Management Services, said service was the cornerstone from which the modern boutique hotel movement was built, and it’s something current hoteliers must not forget.

“When boutique started, we didn’t have the internet or (online travel agencies); we worked with retail travel agents, and as a small, independent hotel at the time, we were butting heads with the people who had money to spend on big booths (at travel shows) and gifts for the agents,” he said. “So we created a niche and that became boutique. It’s that little extra bit of service we offer guests.

“Attention is paid to detail at independent boutiques, and that’s what’s been lost for years in the flag business. Don’t forget that the (former) Thompson in Beverly Hills was a Best Western, and we turned it into a Thompson without even knocking down a wall.”

To read the entire article at Hotel News Now, click here.