Tag: boutique hotels

StayBoutique© Twitter Chat Highlights

On Friday September 25th, BLLA (@BoutiqueLodging) hosted our first monthly #StayBoutique Twitter Chat and it was a rousing success! With over 300 tweets shared on the topic over the course of the hour we had participation from some fantastic tastemakers and hoteliers around the world.  The event was co-hosted by Niki Leondakis (@Niki_Leondakis) CEO of Commune Hotels. If you missed it this time, we plan to do it monthly, so join us next time. In the meantime, check out some of the highlights below.

First Question:

Our answer:

Some of our other favorite answers:

Second Question:

Our Answer:

Some of our other favorite answers:

Third Question:

Our Answer:

Some of our other favorite answers:

Fourth Question:

Our Answer:

Other favorite answers:

Fifth Question:

Our Answer:

Other favorite answers:

If you want to see all the tweets, just type the hashtag #StayBoutique in your search bar on Twitter and you will see the feed from the chat in your feed. If you’d like to join in on the next one feel free to email us at info@blla.org and we will send you the questions out a few days in advance. Until then – #stayboutique!


I discovered this great article on this subject matter at trendsetting.com and absolutely believe it applies to the boutique and lifestyle sector of hospitality.

We’d love to hear from you and who your vote would be who represents CLEAN SLATE BRANDS in our sector of the industry!  21C Museum Hotels, SLS and Virgin come to mind. 


There’s a profound shift in power taking place in the business arena. With a whole new breed of exceptional new brands living by the rules of Business 3.0, consumers are now attracted to unproven and unknown brands the way they were attracted to established brands in the past. In fact, ‘established’ is now often just another word for tired if not tainted. The future belongs to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS.

CLEAN SLATE BRANDS:   Newer, better, faster, cleaner, more open and responsive; consumers are rushing to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS and are now  lavishing love, attention and trust on brands without heritage and history.


Why for consumers, ‘new’ now truly means ‘better’

The consumer arena has never been more fixated on the ‘new’. Thanks to the democratization and globalization of innovation (not to mention the celebration of entrepreneurship), brands and individuals from all corners of the world are now working around the clock to dream up and launch endless new products and services, that are truly better and more exciting than current offerings. Lower barriers to entry has gone from buzzphrase to reality, especially online.

And to underscore the ‘for and by’ element of the democratization of innovation, new players are by default more nimble and laser-focused on what consumers want now (as opposed to yesterday) than the bigger legacy-laden brands they compete with.

So from being something that was pushed to consumers by businesses (‘new and improved’), the ‘new’ is now subject to an increasingly strong pull from consumers. Excited by positive experiences of a ‘new’ that is genuinely ‘better’, consumers are hungry for more.


Why consumers are immediately comfortable with, even prefer, turning to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS

The whole concept of ‘brands’ rests on the idea that consumers need recognizable, trusted symbols, honed over many years, to help them navigate the wealth of available choices. However this idea is being swept aside in a business arena* now characterized by INSTANT TRUST.

* This trend is most relevant in mature economies, where trust in big business has never been lower: only 28% trust big business in the UK, 30% in Japan, 32% in Australia, 33% in the US and 34% in Canada. In emerging markets however, consumers’ trust levels are much higher: 83% in China, 72% in Turkey, 65% in Brazil and India (Havas, January 2013). The question is: will big business maintain this trust?

Four forces are making consumers immediately comfortable with (and even prefer) turning to CLEAN SLATE BRANDS:


Now that experiences are increasingly shared, and even the newest of the new is instantly reviewed and rated, consumers have THE F-FACTOR, and feel more confident in being earlier and earlier adopters.

92% trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising, up 18% since 2007. Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted source of brand information with a 70% trust rating, up 15% since 2008. Television ads were trusted by only 47%, down 24% since 2009.
(Nielsen, April 2012)


CLEAN SLATE BRANDS better reflect the zeitgeist. The fact that they are (by definition) newly established, means that they often have ‘new’ business values – such as higher environmental, ethical and social standards – deeply baked into their business models and practices. Just witness how the values of local, storied, sustainable, progressive new businesses have been consistently appropriated by big businesses, as they stumble to catch up here.

The average age of brands in Millward Brown’s BrandZ Top 100 Global Brands Report has fallen consistently, from 84 in 2006 to 68 in 2012. 
(Millward Brown, May 2012)


CLEAN SLATE BRANDS’ simple, lean operations (everything from fair labor practices, transparent supply chains and clean design) are easily understandable – and therefore trusted – by consumers. And with scandal after scandal (from financial products to horsemeat) being blamed on excess ‘complexity’, who can blame them?

Brands that simplify customer decision-making are 115% more likely to be recommended.      (Corporate Executive Board, May 2012)


Business practices are now totally transparent (and if not, merely waiting to be exposed). CLEAN SLATE BRANDS know this. Consumers know that CLEAN SLATE BRANDS know this. Which explains why, on top of the fact that CLEAN SLATE BRANDS, almost by definition, cannot have sinned yet (they’ve just started, after all), consumers trust them to act correctly in the future too.

64% of global consumers think most companies are trying to be responsible only to improve their image.   (Havas Media, 2011)     

Or, to put it another way, many ‘old’ brands were set up in the era of industrial capitalism, when secrecy was a source of competitive advantage and shareholders encouraged pursuit of profit at any cost. Now the world has changed, but even older brands that want to reposition themselves have a hard time wrestling with internal fiefdoms, convoluted legacy systems and opaque supply chains (something that many big company readers of our Trend Briefings might have first hand experience of ;-).


Why using or buying from CLEAN SLATE BRANDS feels more meaningful

CLEAN SLATE BRANDS are natives in a land where communication with brands is two-way, participatory and less reverential, and as such can connect with consumers in a way that older brands often struggle to.

Whether it’s through offering financial support, by helping to shape a brand’s operations, or even by contributing to the product itself (see the Lockitron, Coffee Joulies and Waze examples below), customers of CLEAN SLATE BRANDS often feel more in control – a basic human desire – and that they have a meaningful relationship with the brand*.

* Yes, we too hate the idea that all consumers want to ‘have a relationship’ with any brand they buy from 😉 There are many purchases that are, and will remain, purely functional. But even in traditionally ‘low involvement’ categories such as domestic care, CLEAN SLATE BRANDS with strong stories and identities can thrive. Witness for example how Method’s design-led, eco-friendly products succeeded against P&G’s and Unilever’s.

Don’t forget to tell us your vote for who you think the CLEAN SLATE BRANDS in boutique or lifestyle or luxury hospitality are. 

RFP Season 2012 — Who do Gatekeepers think they are anyways?

Every year for the past 20 odd or so, I’ve spent 6 months or so working through the trials and tribulations of the Request for Pricing season.

During this tedious procedure (please someone invent a new one!), you must make your way through a ton of mazes, twists and turns and lastly, GATEKEEPERS.

Who are they and why do they hold such power?  We all have a ton of questions about these people.  They are entrusted to make decisions which could affect the outcome of a property’s overall occupancy and revenue per available room.

I believe that most independent hotels who rely on these marketing and distribution groups and who are entrusted with making wise decisions, actually have no clue what is really going on behind the scenes.  They have a RIGHT TO KNOW, that’s for sure.  Problem is, they are probably clueless about it.

There exists a huge potential for business that is being left on the table because of the GATEKEEPER.  They are actually CLOSING THE DOOR for one full year for that property.

It is clear that favoritism also plays a role.  What — are the Gatekeepers getting extra attention, freebies?  This is not what the RFP process is meant to achieve.  Commerce is held up by the opinions of these people.  Their job is to be alert to bringing opportunities and they should allow the people in charge of the bottom line, including the owner, in on what opportunities there are, keeping their opinion to the sidelines.

What a shame that the property GM’s and Owners haven’t an idea of what is really going on behind the scenes!

BLLA is an Elite Hotel Program that is not for the weak at heart.  We are here to drive business and awareness of boutique & lifestyle independent hotels, brands and collections on a global basis.  The Elite portion involves many other elements, so we do not fit in a box, i.e. the traditional consortia box (which is old, stinky and outdated).

Don’t ignore this if you are an Owner, a GM, a management company.  Opinions anyone?


El BLLA Capitan


Good news for the hospitality industry!

Hi there everybody,

As you know, the last few years have been plagued with the negative effects of the U.S. recession. Finally, things are starting to look up. In fact, for the travel industry, data has shown that the upcoming year will be extremely profitable. According to a survey taken last month by LowFares.com, we can expect a 44% increase in the number of people planning to take a summer leisure trip this year versus last year, with nearly half of the leisure travel remaining within the U.S.

So how do boutique hotels capture this new market? According to LowFares.com, travel websites offering user reviews and articles significantly outpaced Facebook as the preferred source of vacation destination ideas, receiving 62% of the vote from summer trip planners. Vacationers rely heavily on user reviews. If boutique hotels can ensure that customers enjoy their stay enough to write about it, they are much more likely to attract new customers. And let’s not forget about the importance of social media. Many vacationers also look to social media sites when making travel plans. Facebook was the preferred source for 31% of respondents expecting to use online social media to help them select a destination.

What about business travelers? American Airlines released a survey last week indicating an increase in travel among small business owners. Approximately 86 percent of responding SMB travel managers project that their companies’ travel will either stay the same or increase up to 24 percent over the next year. Another 6 percent anticipated a travel increase of 25 percent or more over the next 12 months.

Business travelers also noted their preferred hotels include large hotel chains that have rewards allowing them to earn and redeem airline miles. Because of the enormous amount of travel, small business travelers prefer to stay at hotels that benefit them. In order to compete with large hotel chains, boutique hotels in major metropolitan city centers need to ensure they are focused on the real needs of business travelers in order to take advantage of this potentially profitable market.

This is good news for the hospitality industry. Both work and leisure travel throughout the U.S. are expected to increase over the upcoming year. And this increase in American travel provides huge opportunities for boutique hotels. While more Americans want to travel this summer, they do not want to spend more. 74% of summer trip planners expect to spend the same or less than they did in 2011. Boutique hotel’s unique offerings and cozy environments may be just what these people are looking for.

Learn more about how to attract guests to your property, how to optimize all facets of social media to promote your property, the enormous economic effects of promoting the U.S. as a travel destination as per the Travel Promotion Act, and more at the BLLA International Leadership Symposium  from October 22-24 in Los Angeles!

Click here to register.

We hope you found this helpful and look forward to seeing you at the conference! Don’t forget to comment and send us your opinions and reactions to our post.

Until next time,

the BLLA-gger