Sincerely, BLLA

The Future of Hospitality is Indeed, Boutique

An overview of Ian Schrager’s fifth appearance at the Boutique Hotel Investment Conference with BLLA Ian Schrager returned to the BLLA stage once a...

An overview of Ian Schrager’s fifth appearance at the Boutique Hotel Investment Conference with BLLA

Ian Schrager returned to the BLLA stage once again to deliver a powerful keynote speech at The Boutique Lifestyle Digital Summit. The Founder of Ian Schrager Companies was interviewed by Jonathan Falik, Founder & CEO of JF Capital Advisors

Moderator, Jonathan Falik of JF Capital Advisors with keynote, Ian Schrager at the BLLA Boutique Lifestyle Digital Summit

From the very beginning of the session, Schrager held firm on one belief: this won’t be a paradigm shift. The hospitality industry will retain the way it does business. Schrager had a relatively optimistic point of view on the current state of the economic downturn. Based on recoveries after other disasters, he believes a return to normalcy will occur – not a new normal, but the normal that we were used to before this year’s COVID-19 crisis. He pointed out, “We always go right back to the way we were, except that we make certain small adjustments, so I’m absolutely certain that will happen again.” And fear not, fellow New Yorkers – although the Big Apple is in a rut right now, Schrager reassured, “It’s forever. It’s always.” 

Schrager’s innovation has resulted in the inception of boutique hotels, and he is also wholly credited for naming hotel lobbies as gathering places, now a common feature in all hotels across the globe. So what does he see as the future? “Technology that has a reason for being; technology that makes the stay more enjoyable, easier, or cheaper,” Schrager stated. “The one benefit we get out of something – an unexpected benefit – is that people…want to have touchless check-in and check-out…They’re more receptive and more open to doing these technology things…I think the benefit that we’ll get out of that is that people will get used to it and will be much more accepting in the future.” Schrager is looking forward to adopting these new technological advances in his own hotels when they reopen. 

However, Schrager doesn’t plan on opening any hotels or restaurants any time soon for numerous reasons. Despite the obvious impediment of limited capacity – resulting in operating at a loss – Schrager emphasized that it comes down to delivering the brand experience, which cannot be achieved at 30-50% capacity. At the heart of a boutique hotel is a lifestyle brand that depends on a vibrant atmosphere to differentiate the property from its competitors. Unless guests can experience the brand for what it truly is, Schrager made it clear that he won’t be reopening his properties until people feel safe travelling again and the demand for hotel accommodations has returned in its full magnitude. 

Schrager can always be counted on to leave the BLLA audience with a lasting impression and insightful wisdom. His parting thought to viewers was to not fear failure. He explained, “If you’re afraid of failure, paralysis sets in and you don’t try anything new. All business depends upon innovation. The only way you’re going to innovate is if you break down the door and go through it”. Understanding boundaries is also a key to Schrager’s success, as he reminded the audience, “It’s important to learn all the rules and the reasons for the rules so that you can intelligently decide which rules you think are smart and intelligent and which rules you’re going to break.” Schrager has no doubt found success through this methodology no matter what project he has taken on, especially when it comes to boutique hotels. This interview has truly affirmed that the future of hospitality is, indeed, boutique. 

Article written by Drew Stephenson of BLLA

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