The Case for the Boutique Hotel: Competition by Niching
There was a time, not too long ago, when hotels competed over glamour, size, and luxury. Websites and press releases boasted about palatial properties, high-thread-count sheets, celebrity chefs in their in-house kitchens, marble countertops in bathrooms. It was all about style, and substance started to fall by the wayside.
Recently, though, travelers have started to focus more on an authentic experience than on the hotel with the biggest pool. They’re traveling to your city to experience your city, after all — not a cookie-cutter room with two queen beds and a TV.
Focusing on Guest Experience
A lot of hotels are starting to shift their mindset about the goal of attracting guests. Yes, your competition is the hotel down the street. But your bigger competition is your guests’ own couch — your goal should be getting them to travel to your city and enjoy their time there, not keeping them cooped up in your own restaurant.
That doesn’t mean you can’t make your in-house amenities as authentic as possible, but uniqueness is crucial. If you live in a city famous for a certain dish or cocktail, do your best to recreate it faithfully. Give your bar a separate entrance from the hotel and staff it with separate employees so it doesn’t feel like an extension of the lobby. If people walking by can’t tell that it’s part of the hotel, that’s fine!
Competing with Airbnb
Part of Airbnb’s success is due to the versatility of locations. If you’re staying in San Francisco, you can pick and choose from any neighborhood you want rather than being stuck in the “hotel district.” But another factor is the purpose that Airbnb serves — not as a destination in and of itself, but as a launching pad for all manner of local adventures and experiences.
The solution is boutique hotels — rather than one giant beachfront monolith, hotel brands are increasingly investing in smaller properties that they can scatter in specific hotspots and niches around the country. While a hotel with 400 beds needs a huge plot of land and all kinds of special permissions, a hotel with a dozen rooms can be built out of any small apartment building or even large house, right in the heart of a city’s music or food epicenter.
Some hotel brands are even blending strategies with private homeowners. Rather than launching a small hotel under their own brand name, hotels are buying small properties and marketing them individually. They benefit from the infrastructure and management skills of the major chain, but without the monotonous rooms and buildings that go with.
Other hotels are building small hotels, all branded the same, that intentionally don’t match. They don’t want guests to have a predictable experience — the hotel version of ordering the same Big Mac in every state — they want guests to have a unique and memorable time.
The Best PBX Solution
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