The Mews Blog > What are the best practices for managing boutique hotels?
The secret of boutique hotel management is about providing customers that added value that they are looking for when they choose to stay at a smaller property. You want to give guests a reason to choose your hotel over the competition. Small, luxury or “boutique” should mean more personal, more unique amenities, and better service, in addition to providing a one-of-a-kind experience.
Managing a boutique hotel is no easy task, but in this article we’ll give some tips as well as talk about the must-have features that will set your hotel apart. Keep reading to find out how to catapult your hotel's service and features ahead of the competition.
What features must your boutique hotel have?
A hotel’s features are ultimately what pushes a guest over the edge to make a purchasing decision. Of course, you need to have the standard features that a regular chain hotel has like a website optimized for online bookings, a well-crafted loyalty program, free Wi-Fi, clean rooms, comfortable beds and food and beverage options like room service and a hotel bar. But you should also have some features that make the difference.
The more personalized the added features you offer, the better. They should be congruent with your hotel’s brand identity, so before designing the features, make sure you have a clear idea of your hotel’s value proposition. Below are some ideas that will set your hotel apart from the competition.
Art and local culture hotel
If you decide to position your hotel as an arts and culture hotel, think about having rotating art exhibitions from local artists or having each room being decorated by a different local artist. You could even gift a postcard with a painting at the end of the stay or have different art books within the rooms for guests to peruse at their leisure.
A foodie hotel
If you decide to go the foodie route, you could leave an artisan chocolate on the pillow when it’s time for the turn down service, or offer artisan beverages in the mini bar. Invite visiting chefs to the hotel’s restaurant, or offer breakfast using local products and sustainable, organic produce. All of these perks will give an added bonus and a personal touch to your hotel.
Online guest services like a virtual concierge are a great way to differentiate your hotel, offering top-notch service without having to invest extra money in a dedicated staff member. Technology can help boost satisfaction levels by handling simple guest requests like extra pillows or room service quickly, while at the same time helping to streamline operations. This is one of those must-have features in a modern boutique hotel.
Instead of offering commercial bath products, you can work with local producers to create soaps, shampoos and conditioners that guests will love. You could also have a pillow menu or duvet menu, where guests can choose their desired firmness and blanket thickness. Go the extra mile with your amenities, it will make the difference.
6 tips for managing boutique hotels
Now that we’ve looked at some must-have features, let's take a look at some tips that will help you successfully manage your boutique hotel.
1. Use your unique value proposition as a common thread
Your unique value proposition should be the common thread that ties your hotel together. That is to say, everything that you do, the services that you offer and how you offer them should be directly related to your hotel’s positioning. Make sure that you complement these features and services so that you can use this to position your hotel within your comp set.
Learn more about defining your hotel’s competitive set.
2. Rely on technology to streamline your operations
In a boutique hotel setting, you are usually working with limited resources and employees that are multi-functional. The same person who serves breakfast might later be the one who cleans the room. This is why when managing a boutique hotel, you must be sure to rely on technology that will fill in for you when you have a gap in personnel, taking away the manual tasks from the day-to-day operations, so your staff can focus on offering the best service possible.
3. Create guest profiles
Guest profiles are key for keeping track of the guests that stay with you, so you can offer targeted services and keep a record of their preferences. For example, if they like to find their bed turned down or even have certain temperature preferences. Having this information on hand helps you to better understand who is staying with you so that you can better cater to their preferences, Personalization is one of the keys to guest satisfaction.
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- How to choose the correct PMS for your boutique hotel
- The main seven requirements all boutique hotels should meet
4. Use surveys to see how you’re doing
Satisfaction surveys are a great way to pinpoint where there are problems, gaps in your service, or room for improvement so that you can anticipate possible issues before they become a problem. It also gives you a chance to understand what you are doing well so that you can give your staff positive reinforcement, which does wonders for staff morale.
5. Review, refine and repeat
There is no secret formula to a perfectly-running boutique hotel, so the important thing is to review how things are going regularly, learn from your mistakes and keep refining processes. Involve your staff to make it a collaborative process that they feel like they are an important part of your hotel functioning to its full potential – which they are.
6. Talk to guests
One of the benefits of a small hotel is that you have a chance to talk to and get to know the people who are staying with you. The important part of being a manager is being able to identify pitfalls before they become a problem, and to understand and identify what you are doing well at your structure. Get an idea of who your guests are, their motivations, and what kind of services they might like to see in the future.
Getting to know your guests is as easy as striking up a conversation with them when they check in or when they are relaxing at the bar. There is no better way of doing market research than actually getting a feel for who your guests are, what they are looking for, how they found your hotel and why they chose to stay with you.
Managing a boutique hotel isn’t rocket science, but it does require persistence, flexibility, and the ability to learn and adapt your offering to what the market wants. The key to running a successful boutique hotel is having a clear idea of what your unique value proposition is so that you can mold all of your activities from marketing to decoration, services, amenities and more around what makes you unique. After all, a guest chooses a boutique hotel for its ability to offer a one-of-kind experience.
Eva has over a decade of international experience in marketing, communication, events and digital marketing. When she's not at work, she's probably surfing, dancing, or exploring the world.
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