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What is Hospitality?

Boutique hoteliers define what the industry means to them Hear from Simon and Gorgi Coghlan of the Provincial Hotel and Meryanne Loum-Martin of Jna...

Boutique hoteliers define what the industry means to them

Hear from Simon and Gorgi Coghlan of the Provincial Hotel and Meryanne Loum-Martin of Jnane Tamsna at The Boutique Lifestyle Digital Summit by BLLA.

On September 17, 2020, BLLA gathered leaders in hospitality from across the globe to “liberate what it means to be a hotelier.” Two of the most notable panels included “Unconventional Hospitality” and “Going Back to True Hospitality,” each featuring panelists who are undeniably experts in their field. The “Unconventional Hospitality” panel included Simon & Gorgi Coghlan, Owners of The Provincial Hotel in Ballarat, Australia, and Meryanne Loum-Martin, Director & Owner of Jnane Tamsna in Morocco. “Going Back to True Hospitality” featured Jeff Klein, Founder of JK Hotel Group, and Arnaud Zannier, Founder of Zannier Hotels. Each panel was moderated by BLLA’s own Partner and COO, Ariela Kiradjian. 

Entering the hospitality market came seamlessly to each group of panelists. Simon & Gorgi have always had an affinity for hosting parties. Coupled with Simon’s background in hospitality, the pair’s love for boutique became a “passion project” when the opportunity arose to purchase and redesign their own 23-room boutique hotel in Ballarat, Australia. In Meryanne’s case, she discovered her talent for design and creating an authentic hospitality experience while designing a holiday home for her family. Hospitality is innate to Meryanne. She remarked, “It’s really about sharing your experience of the place and giving–very naturally in a friendly way–access to your tips to the community.”

Moderator, Ariela Kiradjian, with panelists Simon & Gorgi Coghlan of Provincial Hotel and Meryanne Loum-Martin of Jnane Tamsna at The Boutique Lifestyle Digital Summit

Put simply, hosting people is at the root of hospitality, and “boutique hotels are gathering centers,” moderator Ariela stated. Gorgi & Simon explained that when a guest opts to stay at their hotel, “You are the person that they choose to celebrate something really significant in their life, and that’s a privilege, and that’s an honor, and that’s something that we love.” Gorgi elaborated, “Unlike [at] the big hotels, when [guests ask], ‘What can I do?,’ we’ll say, ‘Hang on, I’ll just ring Belinda at Cafe Cedric 20 minutes down the road and she’ll be able to make you a beautiful lunch and you can tour the cidery if you like.’ [So] we call and we can arrange that in a heartbeat and they just think that’s incredible that there’s that community and you know each other and it’s unlike a big resort experience.” 

When asked how the group would describe boutique in just a few words, Simon & Gorgi answered, “authentic, unique, shared, individual, and playful.” Meryanne believes boutique is “oneself shared with others.” All agreed that the element of generosity was of utmost importance. 

Meanwhile, during “Going Back to True Hospitality,” hoteliers Jeff and Arnaud provided viewers with their own definitions of various industry terms. Jeff said he believes that boutique “has a different meaning to everyone, but to me, I would say that a boutique hotel has a soul as the differentiating quality…I think you know when you see a boutique hotel.” Of course, there is no ‘boutique’ without ‘hospitality.’ To Arnaud, hospitality means “[trying] to create an experience. For me, experience is all about emotion. For me it’s more about memories. It’s far more tricky to create an environment where people will remember moments. You need to have a team that’s as passionate as you are when you conceive the place in order to translate through the staff of the hotel the idea of why we have initially created this place. It’s really trying to use all the senses that we have and try to create something unique.” Jeff defined hospitality as a “bespoke service crafted for a specific customer” and offered an example of how some businesses go about attempting to create this experience in the wrong way: bringing in a celebrity chef with their own pre-set menu. He explained how as a hospitality professional, one must understand what customers are craving in an experience, in this case, a meal at a restaurant, and most often, it’s something very simple such as a burger or a steak after they have been working all day. In doing this, you are “learning how to speak to that person.” 

Moderator, Ariela Kiradjian, with panelists Arnaud Zannier of Zannier Hotels and Jeff Klein of JK Hotel Group at The Boutique Lifestyle Digital Summit

When devising a genuine boutique experience, Arnaud pointed out, “You need to be able to create something unique within the location you’ve chosen and you have to compose with all the elements of the hospitality world from the F&B experience to the local community.” Jeff stated, “I don’t think ‘formula’ and ‘boutique hotel’ should ever be in the same sentence because it’s extremely contradictory. I think even if they have a formula, it’s just not a boutique hotel at that point. The inception of a successful boutique hotel, in my opinion, is noticing a hole in the marketplace and filling that void.” 

So what advice did these entrepreneurs leave to viewers? Jeff instructed, “Listen to your customers and listen to your gut.” Arnaud advised the audience “to be passionate. I think with passion, you can achieve anything.” From these panels, we are reminded that hospitality is ultimately about bringing people together, and that it goes far beyond design or food & beverage – those are just the cherries on top. 

Article contributed by Drew Stephenson of BLLA

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