Have you ever googled “boutique hotel”? The results will leave you dumbfounded. You’ll see some of the most beautiful properties out there.
The reason I am shedding a light on it is that the term “boutique” is becoming synonymous with aesthetic pleasure.
People actively look for boutique hotels for their stays nowadays. With the increase in demand, the market has become bigger and better with time.
It wouldn’t be wrong if we say that “it is the right time to invest in it”.
However, numerous boutique properties around the world are unable to generate profit despite the demand. But why do these hotels are at such a critical phase?
Are they living under the rocks? Or operating with little know-how of the segment? Whatever be the reason, I am here to help you get a fresh perspective on how to manage a boutique hotel.
It is no rocket science. You just need to unlearn and relearn a few things.
So, let’s get started without further ado.
What is a Boutique Hotel?
A boutique hotel is usually a small property that has its own character or essence. Most of the time, boutique hotels are all about offering an ultra-personalized experience that includes aesthetic ambience. Also, these hotels are typically situated in fashionable urban locations.
And that’s exactly what their USPs are and distinguishes them from branded hotel chains.
What’s the Measure of Success for a Boutique Hotel?
Now, talking about making your business successful, there’s something I MUST address. What is success for a boutique hotel?
Is it the consistent cash flow? A good reputation in the industry? Heavy profit by selling rooms at a higher rate?
Success is personal and varies for every hotel. If you have a business plan in place along with a forecasted revenue, then you can check your current revenue and match. It is one of the many ways to see your hotel’s progress so far.
But again, there’s no specific destination as success. At least that’s what I feel. And if you ask, I would say success is about providing a superior guest experience while making a good profit to scale a hotel business YoY.
Moreover, if you want to dig a little deeper in evaluating your hotel’s performance, here are some of the parameters to check on.
- Average Daily Rate (ADR)
- Occupancy (OCC)
- Market Penetration Index (MPI)
- Average Rate Index (ARI)
- Revenue Generation Index (RGI)
- Supply & Demand
You can keep a track of all these metrics because it will help you know and understand the numbers better.
How to Make Your Boutique Hotel Successful?
What makes a boutique hotel successful? What are the features to be successful with a boutique hotel? Hands down, these are some of the major concerns boutique hoteliers have. And Google is the proof.
When it comes to running a boutique hotel, there are various things to keep in mind. The standards of a boutique hotel are different from any other hotel. Not only do these hotels have a distinct set of guests but also a different atmosphere.
Keeping all of that in mind, I have created a list of prominent tips for running a successful boutique hotel.
1. Establish a brand
Your boutique hotel’s brand is more than what meets the eye. It goes beyond just logos and colours; it is your property’s identity and personality.
Furthermore, a strong brand lets your target guests distinguish you from others in the industry and understand what to expect from your hotel.
Therefore, you must establish yourself as a strong and trustworthy brand? But how can you do that? MARKETING is the answer.
Now, I am not talking about generic marketing activities. You have to take an entirely different approach that can be achieved by working on the content and the brand messaging.
Be it social media, advertisements, email marketing, or even banners at your property itself. You have to be louder with your marketing messages.
#ProTip: Purpose-driven brands tend to get more traction. So make sure you tap into that aspect as well.
2. Understand your ideal guests
As discussed above, boutique hotels are different from branded or chain hotels. Meaning, the segment it caters to is also different.
If your hotel has not received enough bookings lately, you can experiment by targeting a new guest base.
To accomplish this, you first need to know about your ideal guests or the target market segment.
Here are a few questions to explore when you go about tapping into different guest bases.
Who are those people who would want to stay in aesthetic properties? Are those newly married couples? Businessmen? Solo travellers?
Do consider researching about the guests. Once you know and understand them, it will become much easier for you to target them and bring in reservations.
Let me help you with something else too.
Did you know about the concept of guest personas? Yes? No? Never mind!
A guest persona is a representation of a hotel’s guest demographic that is likely to stay at the property.
When you start creating guest personas for your boutique hotel, you get the advantage of bringing in the right people to your property, delivering a personalised experience; and in turn, gaining trust, loyalty, and repeat bookings.
3. Perform compset analysis
Okay I get, compset analysis is in a lot of blogs. But, come on.
We all have to accept that when you’re in hospitality, you can’t overlook your competition.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to break into the boutique hotel industry or already own one, competitor analysis can provide you with a clear understanding of the marketplace to help you refine your current strategies.
The boutique hotel domain is a little compact. Meaning, the competition is with a limited number of hotels. So, an in-depth analysis is going to be of great help.
Be it their pricing, design ideas, the type of guests they cater to, or even their budget, try to learn about each of the factors in brief.
The better you understand your rivals, the better you’ll be able to differentiate your business and stay ahead of the curve.
4. Audit your hotel to determine the pros and cons
Now that you have understood the compset analysis part, it’s time to audit your boutique property.
What are all the parameters to consider? There are no specific sets of things to consider when you’re auditing your property. However, to help you do away from getting overwhelmed, here’s what you can look into.
- Boutique hotels are known specifically for the vibes they offer. So, try to determine whether you have the right or desirable aesthetic ambience (from the lobby to room to everywhere). If you feel you’re lacking somewhere, explore Pinterest and start stealing ideas.
And please, don’t be shy. We all use Pinterest for stealing ideas only. Don’t we?
- Next up, evaluate your pricing strategy. Are you overpricing your rooms? Or, the other way around? Whatever is the case, the compset analysis must have given you a clear picture of the current pricing scenario. Top up those insights with your research and go for the right tactics to reap maximum benefits.
Or, check our latest blog on how to evaluate a hotel’s pricing strategy to get a clear picture.
- How’s your reputation in the industry? Do you know what people are talking about your hotel? A reputation management system can help you get all your queries resolved when it comes to online reputation. If you don’t have one, consider investing in it.
- Next on our list is to check your operational efficiency. Various tasks could be automated, but for some reason, hotels don’t take them seriously. If that has been the case with your boutique hotel, then you might want to get a hotel PMS.
- Do you have all the necessary amenities? If not, then rush to the market or call your supplier ASAP.
These are just to name a few of the parameters of auditing your hotel. Based on your analysis and research, you can add more to it and get a crystal clear scenario.
5. Explore technology that can help you automate operations
Technology plays a significant role in a hotel’s journey. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small hotel or a big multi-property chain, technology can help you ace your hoteliering.
There was a time when hotels used to manage their front-office tasks on excel sheets. But with technology entering the arena, the process has changed.
For example, the concept of a hotel property management system (PMS) was introduced.
Hotels can now manage tasks like reservation, check-in/check-out, room assignment, setting room rates, billing, etc. with super ease.
The hotel tech boom didn’t take a pause here. Today, there are various integrations available that could not only automate tasks but also help hotels in improving their revenue.
Channel manager, booking engine, POS system, accounting system, housekeeping module, or anything you name it, now there is a solution for every hotel operation.
So, try exploring various technologies for your boutique hotel. If you find anything that fits your needs, then don’t shy away from it. Instead, get it right away.
6. Go for the local guests as well
Speaking of success and profitability, a boutique hotel can reap a lot of benefits when it starts to target the local guests as well.
Many hoteliers have a notion that it’s all about travellers and they must prepare to cater for them. However, that is absolutely not the case and the current cultures of work from home, staycation, workation, etc. has proved it.
People, nowadays, are actively seeking escape from their monotonous lives and staying at hotels seems to be helping.
No, I am not making this up. It is actually happening.
And if you want to make the best out of these scenarios, do target your locality. Be it running dedicated marketing campaigns, offering exclusive deals, or even tweaking your pricing strategy, take all the extra miles to get your local folks to book a stay with you.
7. Make your hotel visible on the internet
This is the era of the internet. And if you aren’t visible on this space, you’re lagging my friend!
People are constantly exploring the internet for hotels. But are you doing enough to become “easy to find”? If not, read on.
How can you make your boutique hotel visible online? Here’s how:
- Having a hotel website is a must. It not only provides you with a platform to put forth the best representation of your hotel but also drive commission-free bookings. And here’s a little something for you to make your hotel website stand out — Hotel Website Features Checklist for 2022.
- Social media is where the crowd is and to bring them to your hotel, you must be active there. So, make that move and join all the relevant social media platforms.
Wondering how to up your social media game or be good at it?
We got your back. Here’s a piece of article for you — Social Media Marketing Strategies for Hotels to Make It Big in 2022.
- Google My Business is another platform where you must mark your attendance if you want to increase your online visibility. Apart from letting you list your business location on Google Maps and local search results, it also enables you to display important information about your hotel.
- Like it or not, OTA connections are important for hotels. They are sure to bring a lot of bookings to your hotel and also give you great mileage online.
Further, there’s something called the billboard effect; meaning, when someone sees your hotel on an OTA, they might look for you on Google and come to your website to make a reservation.
8. Make the booking process as smooth as possible
The booking process of a hotel makes a lot of difference. If your booking procedure includes saying more than 3 steps then there are high chances that the prospect will just drop out without making a reservation.
If you’re overwhelmed and thinking about how to make this work, the following points are for you.
- First and foremost, deploy a user-friendly booking engine to your boutique hotel website.
- Place a book now button on your relevant social media pages.
- Another thing to do is eliminate barriers between the potential guests and the final price. If you want to upsell or cross-sell, you can do that after the booking is done — either through email or SMS.
- Make your hotel website mobile friendly. Because if the website looks cluttered on your potential guests’ mobile devices, that’s a red flag.
- Optimise website elements to increase loading speed.
- Work on your OTA listingsas well. Optimising it to the highest level will help you increase OTA ranking and drive bookings.
9. Train your staff to a great level
I can’t stop emphasising the fact that boutique hotel is about style, vibe, and sophistication. And it’s not just the ambience that is responsible for it. Your hotel staff have to be trained properly to serve the guests with an up to the mark standard.
Invest a good amount of time, effort, and money in training your staff on every aspect of the hotel.
Further, compared to a bigger hotel, a boutique property will have fewer staff members. Meaning, the training is not going to be tedious.
Brownie point: Here’s a blog on hotel staff productivity if you want to increase the efficiency of your employees.
Word to the Wise: Guest Experience Always Comes First
I know I have talked about all the factors of how to make a boutique hotel successful, but there’s one aspect that always requires an extra emphasis — guest experience.
My definition of a good hotel is a place I’d stay at.
Robert De Niro
And this sums up everything.
What your guests feel and experience at your hotel is what becomes your identity in the industry. Because word of mouth is a thing and it can make or break a hotel.
Read that again.
Now, this is not just about word of mouth, but as a hotelier, you should religiously offer every guest an impeccable experience.
I have been in this industry for quite some time now. I have seen people running hotels with the notion that they are going to be all things profitable and cut down on elements that enhance the guest experience.
And take it from me, it didn’t take much time for those hotels to witness a blow right on their face and downfall.
It doesn’t matter whether you have the best ambience, rooms, amenities, etc. But if your guests aren’t liking it, all your efforts and money are going to be flushed down the drain.
So, if you’re someone who’s planning to start a boutique hotel or already have one, I want you to understand that your ideal guests are a little sophisticated. Meaning, you have to be extra careful with everything at your property and ensure that they get to have a good time.
Boutique hotels are small, stylish and mostly located in upbeat locations of a city. These hotels offer an intimate and strong artistic vibe to their guests.
Boutique hotels are one of the most profitable businesses out there. However, it needs a different approach when it comes to building marketing and operational strategies.
I have written numerous blogs on various topics from the hospitality industry. And this is certainly one of the most interesting pieces I have written so far.
Not exaggerating but after this boutique hotel blog,
I have become a big fan of white sheets, hotel bedding, and white towels! And I am soon going to visit one boutique hotel.
Boutique hotels aren’t much talked about on the internet. But not anymore. In the coming days, I will be bringing in more content for this hotel type.
Let me know in the comments if you’re up for it.
Also, boutique hotel management doesn’t have to be a hustle. I believe the tips mentioned for running a successful boutique hotel helps you make the most out of your beautiful property.