Panel of experts predict sector developments at Boutique Hotel Summit, Europe’s first b2b conference for the boutique and lifestyle hotel sectors
Delegates at the inaugural Boutique Hotel Summit, Europe’s first b2b conference for the boutique and lifestyle hotel sectors, enjoyed a lively discussion about the future direction of the sector, with a panel of leading industry figures sharing their 10 top trends and buzzwords for the boutique market.
The session was a fitting finale to the conference, which was held at London’s St Ermin’s Hotel in June, and attracted an international audience of 170 delegates. Event organiser Piers Brown said: “The boutique hotel sector is a fascinating market which is evolving at a rapid rate, so it was really enlightening to hear how our panellists see things changing over the next few years. The session certainly provided delegates with food for thought, and we will certainly be revisiting some of these topics in more detail at next year’s event.”
The panel consisted of Ben Elliot, founder of Quintessentially; Catherine Martin, assistant editor of Sleeper Magazine; Philippe Bijiaoui of Hotel Missoni; Mark Cannata, head of culture and heritage at HOK Architects; and Andrew Coutts, president and CEO of The ILM Group. The session was moderated by Russell Kett, managing director of HVS London.
Ten trends and buzzwords for boutique hotels
- Experience and integrity: Boutique hotel guests are looking for something different from the “cookie cutter” approach. It is essential to give them an experience they will remember fondly, and this is more important than getting obsessed with design details
- Clubs: Look out for a proliferation of members’ clubs incorporated in to boutique hotels, particularly in key urban markets such as London and New York.
- Caring for the environment: There is a small but growing band of environmentally aware travellers who are increasingly concerned with their carbon footprint. Boutique hotels can cater for them in a variety of ways from serving locally sourced, seasonal food to allowing guests to control their energy usage. It is also important not to force the green agenda down people’s throats.
- Boutique goes budget: Until now boutique hotels have been operating at the upper end of the price scale, but there is huge scope for budget hotels to offer a more distinctive, less homogenised experience.
- In-room technology: It’s important for boutique hotels to offer technology that is at least as good as the guest would expect to have in their home, but it must be user friendly and practical. The technology must also sit comfortably if installed in heritage buildings, and not jar with its surroundings.
- Authenticity: Boutique hotels are particularly suited to conversions of historic or interesting buildings. By doing this with sensitivity to the materials used and the original structure, they can be among the most sustainable and authentic hotels in terms of the built environment.
- Variety: Boutiques can capitalise on their flexibility and independence by providing individually designed guestrooms rather than standardised offers.
- Location, not brand: Boutique guests are looking to interact with the hotel itself, and the passionate people who drive it and provide great service, not a company or an international brand.
- Boutique B&B: A significant trend towards offering B&B in distinctive, design-led properties with a range of added service and experiences available, such as visiting chefs, wine tastings etc.
- Lifestyle hotels: While the multinationals will struggle to replicate the true boutique experience, they will increasingly focus on the lifestyle model of 100 to 200 room hotels, using their economies of scale and management experience.