Sincerely, BLLA

The Best Boutique Hotels Awaken at BLLA 2021 Event

Part 2 in a series of 8 overviews Today, you're going to feast on advice from a broad spectrum of hoteliers from around the globe. Plus, a priva...

Part 2 in a series of 8 overviews

Today, you’re going to feast on advice from a broad spectrum of hoteliers from around the globe. Plus, a private aviation business owner who flies travelers to their luxury vacations. 

As the info-packed presentations for the best boutique hotels share tips on tapping into your passion and purpose to create your unique brand…

How Do the Best Boutique Hotels Turn Passion into Concept? 

You’re about to find out… 

Peter Cole, the founder of Eclectic Companies shared his insights with Frances Kiradjian, Founder & CEO of BLLA. Peter’s backgrounds as CEO of Design Hotels and time spent as CFO with Ritz Carlton have given him an insight into hotel concepts that work (that’s the abbreviated list of his credentials). 

Peter shared this thought: “Give them the content to identify with and continue to engage. They’ll be an evangelist for you and will be thinking about your hotel long after they leave.”

The Eclectic Companies’ ideology is to be the hotelier’s sounding board. In other words, they don’t correct the journey, they help steer the journey. They become a part of their team and think through their goals.

Peter’s so good at this that they pick the clients, and then the project comes along.

 Here are some tips for you to try at your hotel:

  • Engage in operational excellence as that’s what drives financial benefit
  • Membership clubs go hand in glove with the boutique membership movement as your concept should give your guests a sense of belonging
  • Think about providing content like a book or guest speakers that match your brand and communicate what you believe
  • Your gift shop should reflect your brand as another way to communicate your beliefs  

To sum it all up, guests are attracted to hotel experiences they can relate to. It makes for the perfect guest to hotelier synchronization. 

What Does Your Brand as an Artisan Represent?

People are becoming far more untethered to the office as Zoom and other tech become the norm. Hotels today can be defined as mixed-use properties.

To get some clarity about hotels with an artisan expression, Ariela Kiradjian spoke with Eric Jafari, the CDO of the edyn Group (real estate development) …

And Jayson H. Seidman the founder and marketing partner at Sandstone Hospitality Developments.

Eric said this about being an artisan: “Hotels have evolved into a five-sensory experience. From the type of food you serve, to the type of music you listen to. When your guest steps into your hotel, you’re stepping into their minds and passions. I don’t know of many other art forms that are so immersive.”

edyn Group

 Eric and Jayson shared these observations:

  • Going further from a city’s center, the market is unsaturated
  • Some hoteliers have sold to chain hotels because they’re getting offers they can’t refuse. The chains then scale but lose what gives your brand a soul as they focus on features
  • Successful hotels have a diversity of revenue streams
  • Boutique hotels have contributed to residential neighborhoods becoming more transient. So, the community experiences vitality and resilience as they’re not reliant on the local primary businesses to survive
  • There’s room in the market for boutique hotels to complement each other, not compete

Here’s Jayson’s opinion about artisan expression: “Perfect imperfection that expresses personality — Create a fluid environment that allows the guest to interpret how they feel. Have your property 85% done so the property lives and breathes on its own.”

The Drifter

Remember that the guests and hoteliers share a lifestyle, so your brand comes from your heart.

What Does Your Relationship with Your Guests Look Like?

Do you have your guests wait in line to check in on a busy day? If you do, you might want to rethink that. Ariela Kiradjian spoke with Richard Valtr, the founder of MEWS — MEWS simplifies and automates operations for modern hoteliers. Now, you might be thinking that automation isn’t a “boutique” experience.

When personalized, you create time for your team to serve with excellence.

Richard commented: “Re-label checking in as welcoming someone coming to your home. Think about how your welcome should go. Think about how to be there proactively instead of just waiting in line.”

Here are some examples of personalized automation:

  • If you’re using kiosks, set them up for privacy and give them personality in an easily accessible location — Don’t tuck them away like an afterthought
  • Use team members for welcome experiences, even if a kiosk is used
  • Think about momentos — For example, PMS applications can be used to create handwritten style postcards to send to your guests before they arrive to make them feel like they’ve made the right choice
  • Create a checklist to make changes to your hospitality process and commit to small changes to move forward and avoid overwhelm
  • Make sure your USP is special 

So, automation isn’t impersonal when used wisely.

Luxury Hotels Staying Afloat During Pandemic Restrictions

When Jennifer Hawkins, the founder, and CEO of Hawkins International and Maverick Creative held a think-tank session with three luxury travel operators she saw a theme emerge: “I’m starting to see some themes pop up here like remote and private.”

Ira Bloom is the CEO of ÀNI Private Resorts with four exotic locations. His resorts boast private villas with all the amenities and services you’d find at a 5-star resort. The pandemic has put his business in a better than ever position as travelers don’t want to share spaces.

ÀNI Anguilla

Ira had this to say about a new trend in luxury travel: “People are traveling without their kids. Occasions like 40th birthdays and adults coming up with an excuse to leave the kids at home. We expect this trend to continue to grow.”

David Zipkin is the founder of Tradewind Aviation. His company offers short flights to Nantucket, the Caribbean, and other exotic locations.

The new trend in luxury travel David has noticed is: “A lot of people have a new work-life balance and that’s here to stay. What’s great for us as a small operator is that it puts less pressure on us for the peak days. We’re seeing more Tuesday and Wednesday travel, the non-standard days.”

Andy Hogg is the founder of The Bushcamp Company in Zambia. He operates an 18-chalet lodge and a collection of intimate luxury bushcamps.

Andy offered this about improvements for his properties: “It’s always been small and remote with the activities being a big draw card. The quality of the experience would largely be the guides. We’re continuing to strengthen that side of our business. We have increased our number of exclusive use properties and are planning a new project with individual family units with small swimming pools and offering something different from what we’ve got and different in our area.”

All of these luxury hotel owners shared that helping their communities has played a huge role in carrying them through the pandemic:

  • Ira quipped that he made a selfish business investment as guests return because he supports his community. For example, he’s funded drawing and painting academies at each location that are free to the community
  • David offers free delivery flights to natural disaster areas like Puerto Rico where he has a strong presence. Plus, free travel for kids who are cancer patients. He speaks fondly of the thrill it gives his employees
  • Andy feeds 3,500 local kids one meal a day and has built classroom blocks and clean water wells

In Andy’s case, to keep his 180 staff employed as his location hampered travelers during the pandemic, he ran sweepstakes and sold a cookbook. Also, clients donated money to keep their projects afloat.

This generosity and community spirit heightens the experiences their guests enjoy.

Does Your Hotel Have a Powerful Purpose?

Nile Tuzun, the founder and chief creative storyteller at Studio Nilebrand discussed mission-based brands with two entrepreneurial champions. They mesh their compassion, creative minds, and spirit to touch their guests and community on an emotional level.

Massimo Ianni is the founder and partner at Massimo & Partners. Massimo took a traditional hotel training path to master the elements of hospitality. He says this about the local guest experience: “Authenticity and value paint the world with the color of where the adventure is.”

Massimo & Partners

Paul Salmon is the chairman of the Rockhouse Hotel and Rockhouse Foundation. The Rockhouse is listed as one of the top 100 hotels in the world. Here’s what Paul says about developing hotels that live in harmony with the community: “Hotel ownership has become more purpose-driven. There’s an opportunity in the marketplace, that’s what the market is demanding. It brings spiritual rewards.” 

Paul has also used his success to build local schools, fund breakfast programs, and more.

Here are some tips from Massimo and Paul to help you employ purpose in your properties:

  • Take incremental small steps, engage with the community and let it grow — Plant the seed
  • Your gestures don’t have to be grand
  • Use human connection through storytelling. For example, at Massimo’s Argentinean location they offer guests the opportunity to make and label their own wine. This taps into their emotions
  • Write a novel to enhance your brand and tell stories of your impact on the local community
  • Stay actively involved in your community 

In a nutshell, making genuine connections and sharing your lifestyle with others is rewarding for you and your community.

The Best Boutique Hotels Exude Passion, Passion & Passion

There’s no doubt that all of today’s presenters share a passion for touching their guests and community on a profound emotional level.

They seem to place value on relationships over money which has resulted in spiritual and financial rewards. Plus, enabled them to be counted as some of the owners of the best boutique hotels.

So, tap into your passion and watch your hotel and community flourish.

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