Boutique Hotel. Only the words get the imagination going. Even before I dog eared the pages of Herbert Ypma’s first Hip Hotels book I was fascinated by the world of boutique hotel properties. “How cool will it be to be the general manager of a cool boutique hotel?” I often found asking myself as I flipped through the pages of his spectacular photos. Spending so much time to make a career out of the hotel industry, I was convinced that I just had to be involved with a boutique hotel someday.
That someday came true, when in 2004 I was invited to be the typical manager of the items was yet still is just one of Palm Springs most hip boutique hotels. I left another huge opportunity in order to take part in this amazing world. The art, the design and style, the vibe. I needed never really worked anywhere using a “vibe”. Annually later and I knew, I knew what many in the hotel business usually do not…what exactly it is really want to be the gm of a hip, cool boutique hotel. It’s not for anyone and amazing for many.
There is a mini storm brewing in the boutique hotel world, one I don’t think most involved with this industry are aware of. With more and more boutique hotel operators entering the playground, increasingly more bad hiring decisions are made. The best General Mangers work at the wrong hotels. Such as a square peg as well as a round hole, some things just do not work. That is to blame and what you can do?
The Boutique Hotel: First permit me to first tell you that I have got a narrow take a look at what really constitutes a boutique hotel. I believe the term “Boutique” when used to describe a hotel is frequently misapplied. A Alexander Mirza is not really based on just a hot design, as much would argue.
A boutique hotel has to be an independent operation. The resort should not be part of a collection that is greater than say, 10 properties. Beyond this you receive into using a corporate hierarchical management style that is needed in running a large company and maintaining brand consistency. Take W Hotels as an example. In my view these are not boutique hotels. They search such as a boutique hotel, even think that one. Many boutique hotels would make an effort to be as great as being a W. But a W Hotel is run and managed by way of a rzaufu corporation. The home level management makes not many decisions as to what services are given and exactly how the property is run. A boutique hotel should be operated as close to the actual physical operation as you can. W’s and so forth are amazing, but in my view don’t fit the meaning of a boutique hotel. Boutique hotels will also be constantly re-inventing themselves, making sure that their fickle guest never lose interest and search to keep in the latest new, hip and funky property.
Travelers made a decision to stay in a boutique hotel due to the story, or even the experience. The experience is essential and must be unique and somewhat leading edge. The general demographics are individuals 20 to 50 years of age, function in more creative fields like advertising or entertainment and appreciate a greater amount of service. When Ian Schrager entered the marketplace with what many consider to become the initial boutique hotel, this demographic found that they can use their travel budget have them an area with a cool, hip hotel as opposed to a generic mid-level branded property. And the boom started.
Boutique hotel guests enjoy experiences, unique architecture, leading edge interior decorating and in some cases an urban location. The current market is expanding as well as the demographic model explained earlier is starting to bleed into others. You may very well look for a Fortune 500 CEO staying in a boutique hotel. It is actually difficult to disregard the hype.
Luxury hotel operators are scrambling to avoid losing market share towards the boutique world. Some hotels are in fact using the “brand” off their marketing and streamlining their operations to ensure that their properties are authentically boutique. Go ahead and take Kahala Mandarin Oriental for instance. This famous luxury property recently took Mandarin Oriental away to make sure they could operate and compete inside the new marketplace of more independent hotels. They are simply “The Kahala” and therefore are spending so much time to be authentically local and independent of a major brand identification. I do believe others follows.
For the sake of this publication, I am going to use the luxury hotel because the comparison towards the boutique as most closely associate a boutique hotel with luxury travel. So what exactly is so different about as being a general manager with a luxury hotel versus a boutique hotel? Could it actually be that different? The basic principles are the same. The general manager is mainly responsible for the whole daily operation, hiring decisions, marketing, budgets, forecasting, rate strategy, facility maintenance etc… The key both for types of properties is guest service and guest interaction. The guest with a top quality luxury hotel expects to be able to connect with the hotel general manager, as carry out the guests with a boutique property. It really is all high touch.
The real difference is the fact a boutique hotel general manager wears only a few more hats than the luxury general manager. A boutique general manager may be preparing complex budget forecasting spreadsheets at 10am and at 10:30 am be clearing the pool towels from round the hotel’s salt water plunge. When was the last time you saw the typical manager from the Peninsula Beverly Hills with the arm packed with towels? Don’t misunderstand me, I am aware the general manager in the Peninsula would do that in a second, when they needed to. The overall manager of any boutique hotel HAS to, since there is nobody else. The one server working the restaurant is additionally probably responsible for taking care of the pool, taking room service orders, delivering the orders and so on…. The typical manager of any boutique hotel is oftentimes even the HR director and breaks the front side desk agents. When the gm is in California then this gm may find themselves breaking just about every position in order to avoid getting sued and fined!
Take this example; you are the GM of a hot boutique property within the desert. The temperature is pushing 118 degrees. Since occupancy during the summer is very low, you encourage plenty of your team to adopt their vacations to get that vacation accrual off your books. One of those who takes you up on this really is your chief engineer, certainly one of two engineers for the entire five acre property. He goes the place to find the motherland, Germany to get a week. Now because it’s hot does not always mean that you don’t have customers. Some tourists appear to love the temperature, so it was with this particular steamy day in August. As the sun begins to set, your friends and relatives make their way through the pool with their bungalows. Dusk and 100 degrees, everyone switches on their aged air conditioning units full blast so they can cool off. Your only other engineer has gone home for the day. It is actually at concerning this time that the calls start to arrive. The ac units are freezing up. The old units freeze up when they are excited full blast. Many blow the circuit breakers. So there you are, inside your office doing the forecast to your weekly corporate status report call if the front desk calls you in a panic, “the guests are flipping out” cries your new front desk agent. You browse the calls and find out that you need your engineer back on property, but his pre-paid cellular phone (you cant afford to pay for a cellular phone for him) has run out of time -you cant reach him! So what should you do? You visit the rooms to try to fix them. Room by room you tackle the process of explaining in your sweaty and angry guests why they cant turn their ac on full which it will require a minimum of a couple of hours for the ice developed across the coils to melt. Then you certainly start looking for the circuit breakers, which can be scattered all over the 60 year old property. When you reach the last room the guest who answers the door almost screams in the sight of the sweaty, dirty general manager holding an instrument box with a dazed look on his face. “Wasn’t this the identical guy who had been pouring us Mimosas at the pool this morning honey?” asks the guest as you begin your repairs. When the craziness has ended you get a call on your mobile phone. Yes, it is actually your engineer returning your call. “You seeking to reach me boss?”. The following day, while on your conference phone you listen to a speech regarding how general managers have to spend more time with their guests as opposed to within their offices. Duh, you imagine when you make an effort to scrub the grit from under your fingernails.
The financial realities of a boutique hotel are unique. The look of three to five star service having a two star budget is the norm, and also the gm’s get caught in the middle. The boutique hotel just does not have the budget to staff such as a true luxury property and everyone has to pull their weight. The gm that does not is definitely not there long and hate every second with their lives.
Together with the additional sweat and frustration of being a boutique hotel gm would be the rewards. For the best individual, they will likely realize that the entrepreneurial management style required of these is extremely empowering. The gm can create a great deal of decisions by themselves, decisions that in a larger corporate hotel would require an approval or worse….committee discussion! The truth that some towels must be acquired and perhaps a drink or two be mixed and served is really fun to them. The rewards of always being facing your guests are what most gm’s want anyway, but many are certainly not really ready for it if they are tasked to help make that happen every single day.