Sincerely, BLLA

Independent & Agile: No Brand Standards? No Problem.

Operating as an independent boutique hotel can offer tremendous advantages when adopting new technologies and processes since the lack of formal bran...

Operating as an independent boutique hotel can offer tremendous advantages when adopting new technologies and processes since the lack of formal brand standards gives operators the freedom to arrive at whatever solutions they deem best. That’s proving to be a blessing, as in this volatile current COVID-era hospitality industry, staying swift and responsive to changing demands is crucial.

Some of the significant hotel technology trends that have emerged since the pandemic have been particularly noteworthy on the independent level, where lean, agile teams are leveraging the latest tools to succeed. Six critical areas of innovation include:

Contactless Check-In

What began as a COVID-era necessity has become a potential long-term lifesaver in an industry where labor conditions keep tightening. Contactless check-in options are becoming the standard, forged with a mobile-first approach, and many independent/boutique hotels are pioneering the movement. This strategy makes even greater sense when staffing levels no longer support a front desk.

Today’s mobile transactions are quick and seamless for hoteliers striving to provide a top-tier guest experience. In addition, like QR codes, a focus on self-service has put lobby kiosks back into the spotlight. For some guests, kiosks are the initial point of contact, but the savvy guest has already completed their online check-in and may want to simply pick up physical room keys at the kiosk and go straight to their room. Multiple vendors are developing the necessary tech, quickly becoming cost-effective for even small, independent hotels and motels.

Keyless Entry

With a self-service check-in strategy comes the next logical progression in that revolution: keyless, digital guestroom entry. Initially, with the purview of big brands looking to tie the straight-to-room experience into mobile loyalty apps, this technology is becoming much more accessible now to independent boutique hotels. And, being independent, boutique operators have the luxury of shopping for solution providers that best meet their needs.

A great example is The Local – St. Augustine in Florida, a boutique property that implemented a complete mobile check-in solution, eliminating its front desk. Check-In at The Local happens via a mobile app; hotel staff needn’t be present. Guests scan their ID to verify their identity, and then a digital room key is created for use on their smartphone. If there’s a problem, guests can contact a team member via the technology. The owners hope to expand the digital guest experience so that everything from the digital key, concierge, ability to make dinner reservations, and more is all in one app while tapping CRM tech to provide unique guest experiences.

Task Management

Another area where independent hotels can utilize their digital agility to their advantage is in the burgeoning landscape of task management tech. Driven by mobile, app-based solutions, task management tech allows teams to run more thoughtfully and efficiently, maximizing precious labor. These solutions are also crucial in an environment where supervisors often work remotely.

Property Automation

In the quest to do more with less, especially since the pandemic, independent hotels are reaping the rewards of automated processes, not just in the lobby but back of house as well. Lean revenue management teams are tapping into new technologies to rapidly adjust to changing rate patterns, while sales and marketing executives harness promising new CRM methods.

Here’s another area where nimble, tech-first owners make competitive headway since property automation often requires substantial hardware and software upgrades. Without a brand calling the shots, boutique hoteliers are free to get the upgrades done on their timeline.

Guest Personalization

As guests return from many months spent at home in quarantine, they’re looking for new experiences and expecting excellent service, which can be a challenge for short-staffed hoteliers. Fortunately, hoteliers today have more tools to provide personalized experiences throughout the guest journey, including on-property. 

With the right data integrations, hoteliers can drive ancillary revenue while creating “wow” moments for their most valued guests, using personalization and tailored offers to boost guest satisfaction, loyalty, and profitability. This is an impactful strategy at boutique properties, helping them stand out against their larger cookie-cutter counterparts.

Shifting Manpower

What’s important to note is that the result of many new automated and contactless processes has been felt on an utterly human level. By eliminating many of the routine front desk tasks that unnecessarily eat up time, front desk associates are now free to engage with guests on a higher value, more personal, and meaningful level, often answering questions and handling requests in situations where automation is useless. At boutique hotels, that’s the essential service to preserve while enabling employees to better offer upsell opportunities, like room upgrades and food-and-beverage ordering options.

In an industry where the labor pool keeps shrinking, this strategy ensures hoteliers make the most of their most valuable asset: their team.

Virdee is a premier-plus partner member of BLLA – view their listing here!

You might like these too

The Impact of Boutique Hotels on the Travel Industry

Shaping Unique Experiences and Future Trends in Hospitality In an evolving travel landscape, boutique hotels have emerged as significant players, r...

Maximizing Room Profitability, Minimizing Environmental Impact

Avendra’s Commodity Market Update for Q1 2024 rings in some good news for your budget and guest experience. Inflation appears to be stabilizing, and ...