Sincerely, BLLA

High Society: INTELITY

The BLLA team sits down with Robert Stevenson, CEO of INTELITY, to discuss what it means to be boutique. BLLA: What is the mission of INTELIT...

The BLLA team sits down with Robert Stevenson, CEO of INTELITY, to discuss what it means to be boutique.

BLLA: What is the mission of INTELITY?

RS: “At INTELITY, our main goal is to help hospitality operators and owners, as well as residential and other related verticals, forge a strong relationship between their guests and their property, and enhance the entire guest journey using our platform. We strive to elevate the guest experience to a level that is comparable or even better to what you might find in a large enterprise brand, but at a scale that is much more approachable for independent, boutique and mid-size properties.”

BLLA: Why are you excited to be a member of BLLA?

RS: “BLLA is really the primary organization around the globe that focuses on the boutique hotelier, the boutique lifestyle, the guest journey, and the unique benefits and challenges they face. It encapsulates what the boutique hotelier is trying to accomplish and supports them. There are plenty of organizations that cater to tech companies, limited service properties, branded group properties, resorts, casinos, and soft brands. But BLLA is very specific in its mission, and it fills a gap in the market. Personally, I really appreciate what boutique hotels are trying to accomplish. If I have an opportunity to stay in one, I often will.”

BLLA: How do you help boutique hotels thrive?

RS: “INTELITY is a complete guest experience platform with back-office functionality that enables hoteliers to deliver a robust guest experience akin to what is being offered at the enterprise-level brand platforms. We help guide hotel owners and operators who are interested in offering a more modern guest experience but may not know how to start or are not familiar with technology required to deliver that digital experience. Most hotel owners and operators are not technologists, nor should they be. They are focused on guests, operations, and the economics of their properties. They are not going to worry about who will engineer their hotel mobile app, how to get mobile key working with their locks, or how to get a truly seamless check-out to work. These are complicated technology questions.

“That’s where INTELITY steps in. Our platform can help hoteliers offer a complete digital guest experience, as well as provide a robust staff experience. INTELITY is very familiar with  the needs of boutique hotels and smaller properties.”

BLLA: What have been some of your favorite boutique hotels to work with?

RS: “The first boutique hotel that comes to mind would be The George hotel in Montclair, NJ. The George has been a partner of ours for a long time and really took advantage of the INTELITY platform during the pandemic. Having remote check-in and mobile key allowed them to keep their doors open throughout the pandemic and even housed frontline responders. Plus, it’s a chic hotel with such great history. Other boutique hotels we love are Espacio, the Jewel of Waikiki in Honolulu which offers full-floor suites, and Zemi Beach in Anguilla, a true luxury experience.”

BLLA: Where do you see this niche headed in the future?

RS: “Looking at the boutique segment in totality, it’s quite a large range of properties around the globe and I’m not sure if “niche” is an accurate description anymore. As we look down the road into 2023 and beyond, brands will of course continue to dominate large sections of the market, particularly as business and event travel returns. However, leisure travelers have gone through the pandemic and many have a new outlook on what’s important when they travel. I believe this will translate into guests seeking out more unique destinations with one-of-a-kind experiences, and boutique hotels can perfectly fit and fill that segment. I also expect that there is going to be an increase in properties geared to attracting that boutique segment. You can already see big brands, such as the expanding Autograph collection, seeking to capture some of the boutique flair and style. This style of lodging has a lot of appeal and as the demand for leisure travel continues to grow, I think you are going to see more options in the boutique space.”

BLLA: Why do you believe boutique hoteliers are more open-minded than traditional hoteliers?

RS: “As an owner, when you go down a brand path, many of your decisions, from choosing your primary booking engine to your guest room design, are driven by the brand. What you buy is solved for you. For many owners, this can be a win. As a boutique hotelier however, you often have more freedom to be creative, to come up with something special or to try a unique angle. This requires a certain level of open-mindedness, and also a willingness to take calculated risks. For instance, a bold or unique design may not work as well as envisioned and may need to be redone, incurring more time and costs. A mistake can be expensive and time consuming. We’ve seen that from a tech perspective, too. Taking a path as a first adopter or an early adopter on a piece of technology that might ‘wow’ your guest may require some time to get it right. But, the result can be really great. These are typical behaviors of open-minded hoteliers and risk-takers. At INTELITY, we have many, many boutique hotels on the platform and have seen time again creative leadership, ideas and an element of risk taking coming from them.”

BLLA: Why do you believe in the boutique movement?

RS: “There is a lot of power and reward in having a successful boutique property. Many boutique hoteliers don’t just stop with creating one boutique hotel–they do multiple builds over their lifetime. They work on a variety of hotels, often luxury and higher-end properties, so they get a knack for it. I don’t see it slowing down. I certainly see brands and even some resorts trying to emulate what boutiques hotels are doing. Many are spinoffs from their brands that allow owners and operators the flexibility to borrow from the boutique landscape. I think those are all signs that the boutique movement is strong and is continuing to grow. The pandemic has been hard on everybody, but now that the world has in a way reset, boutiques are in a great position to benefit in the coming years.”

INTELITY is a premier vendor/partner member of BLLA – view more details here!

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