What’s happening at independent hotels

Two days ago, I spoke at the Stay Boutique Live Trifecta event at Los Angeles.

Organized by the Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA), the Trifecta brings together an eclectic mix of boutique/lifestyle hotel owners, representatives, consultants and industry publications. As the CEO of Go Moment, I was honored to have been invited to lead a workshop and to be amidst the discussions. It was a fast-paced learning opportunity.

Learnings & Discoveries

Here are top learnings spotted from our team’s conversations:

Boutique hotels
  • The boutique hospitality industry is on an upswing from a growth perspective. Here’s a study that pegged the revenue for the industry at $17 billion dollars in 2018. The 7% growth rate seen in 2017, clearly continued into 2018 as well. There are more numbers at the link about the number of employees, businesses and growth rate. This makes intuitive sense as guests continue to seek more differentiated experiences that are Instagram-worthy.
  • Meeting ever-rising guest expectations is a challenge for boutique and independent hotels. They operate with smaller budgets relative to branded hotels; often working outside the infrastructure that is at the disposal of franchised branded hotels. Mobile apps, booking websites, marketing toolkits aren’t on-hand, ready to be “switched on.”
  • Perspective matters: are we dealing with challenges or opportunities. In an inspiring way, boutique hospitality leaders have leveraged the absence of out-of-the-box infrastructure as an opportunity to innovate. Unsurprisingly, they look to technology to play a significant role to meet and exceed guest expectations pre-booking and on-site.
  • Not having a brand standard to meet has oftentimes resulted in the boutique hospitality industry innovating and exceeding expectations. We are surrounded by examples – Equinox Hotels with its health focus, Public Hotel with “luxury for all” and Yotel adopting the cabin concept, offering lower ADRs in markets like NYC and SF.
  • There were several discoveries on hotel guest behaviors – I want to call out only one.  I learned that TV viewership has remained steady or grown in hotels where relevant content can easily be displayed on screen, and that Netflix is the most-watched ‘channel’ by hotel guests! Clearly, the fact that guests need to type their login and password into the TV to access Netflix is not a deterrent. Thank you, Vanessa Ogle, for this insight.

Markers

Over half of Go Moment clients are currently independent, boutique, and casino resort clients. We’ve learned a ton from this group of enterprising hoteliers. And yet, questions at the workshop excited me – questions that included how today’s guest experience works with Ivy, how guest conversations can be completely personalized, and how the future of data security and privacy may work given the addition of IoT and smart speakers in the guest room.

Questions that pique are markers of a curious, engaged audience, in my book. And a clear indicator of the standards that the boutique hospitality industry will break in 2019.

Were you at the event? Or are you from the industry and have trends to share? I’d love to hear more.

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