Boutique Hotel. Just the words get the imagination going. Even before I dog eared the pages of Herbert Ypma’s first Hip Hotels book I was fascinated with the realm 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 magnificent photos. Making an effort to make a career from the hotel industry, I was convinced that I just had to be associated with a boutique hotel someday.
That someday came true, while in 2004 I used to be invited to become the typical manager of the items was but still is one of Palm Springs most hip boutique hotels. I left another huge opportunity in order to take part in this unique world. The art, the style, the vibe. I needed never really worked anywhere using a “vibe”. Annually later and i also knew, I knew what many within the hotel business tend not to…what exactly it is really enjoy being the gm of a hip, cool boutique hotel. It’s not for everybody and amazing for a lot of.
There is a mini storm brewing inside the boutique hotel world, one I don’t think most involved in this industry understand. With more and more boutique hotel operators entering the playground, increasingly more bad hiring decisions are being made. The right General Mangers will work on the wrong hotels. Such as a square peg as well as a round hole, a few things just do not work. That is to blame and what can be done?
The Boutique Hotel: First let me first tell you that I possess a narrow look at what really constitutes a boutique hotel. I think that the term “Boutique” when employed to describe a hotel is frequently misapplied. A Alex Mirza is not really based on just a hot design, as much would argue.
A boutique hotel should be an independent operation. The hotel should not be part of a collection that is a lot more than say, 10 properties. Beyond this you get 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 generally not boutique hotels. They search like a boutique hotel, even feel as if one. Many boutique hotels would attempt to be as great being a W. But a W Hotel is run and managed by way of a rzaufu corporation. The home level management makes only a few decisions in regards to what services are available and exactly how the home is run. A boutique hotel should be operated as near to the actual physical operation as possible. W’s and so forth are amazing, but in my opinion don’t fit the definition of a boutique hotel. Boutique hotels will also be constantly re-inventing themselves, ensuring that their fickle guest never get bored and appear to remain on the latest new, hip and cool property.
Travelers made a decision to stay in a boutique hotel because of the story, or even the experience. The knowledge is vital and should be unique and somewhat cutting edge. The typical demographics are individuals 20 to 50 years of age, function in more creative fields like advertising or entertainment and appreciate a higher level of service. When Ian Schrager entered the current market as to what many consider to be the very first boutique hotel, this demographic discovered that they might use their travel budget have them a room in a cool, hip hotel instead of a generic mid-level branded property. As well as the boom started.
Boutique hotel guests enjoy experiences, unique architecture, cutting edge interior design and perhaps an urban location. The current market is expanding and also the demographic model explained earlier is beginning to bleed into others. You could perfectly find a Fortune 500 CEO staying at a boutique hotel. It is tough to ignore the hype.
Luxury hotel operators are scrambling in order to avoid losing market share to the boutique world. Some hotels are in reality taking the “brand” off their marketing and streamlining their operations so 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 now simply “The Kahala” and are spending so much time to get authentically local and independent of the major brand identification. I think others follows.
In the interests of this publication, I am going to use the luxury hotel as the comparison to the boutique since most closely associate a boutique hotel with luxury travel. So what is so different about being a general manager in a luxury hotel versus a boutique hotel? Could it be that different? The basic principles are similar. The overall manager is mainly responsible for the whole day to day operation, hiring decisions, marketing, budgets, forecasting, rate strategy, facility maintenance etc… The real key for types of properties is guest service and guest interaction. The guest in a top end luxury hotel expects to be able to connect with the resort general manager, as do the guests in a boutique property. It really is all high touch.
The main difference is the fact a boutique hotel general manager wears just a couple more hats than the luxury general manager. A boutique general manager may be preparing complex budget forecasting spreadsheets at 10am as well as at 10:30 am be clearing the pool towels from around the hotel’s salt water plunge. When was the very last time you saw the typical manager in the Peninsula Beverly Hills with an arm filled with towels? Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the general manager in the Peninsula would do this in a second, should they needed to. The overall manager of any boutique hotel Must, since there is nobody else. The main one server working the restaurant can also be probably in charge of taking care of the pool, taking room service orders, delivering the orders and so on…. The overall manager of any boutique hotel is sometimes also the HR director and breaks the front desk agents. If the gm is at California then this gm may find themselves breaking almost every position in order to avoid getting sued and fined!
Take this example; you are the GM of any hot boutique property in the desert. The temperature is pushing 118 degrees. Since occupancy through the summer season is very low, you encourage plenty of your team to consider their vacations so you can get that vacation accrual off your books. One of those who goes up on this can be your chief engineer, among two engineers for your entire five acre property. He goes home to the motherland, Germany for a week. Now just because it’s hot does not necessarily mean that you simply don’t have customers. Some tourists manage to love the heat, and so it was with this particular steamy day in August. As the sun starts to set, your guests make their way from the pool to their bungalows. Dusk and 100 degrees, everyone turns on their aged ac units full blast to allow them to cool down. Your only other engineer has gone home for the day. It really is at concerning this time that this calls start coming in. The ac units are freezing up. The existing units freeze up when they are excited full blast. Many blow the circuit breakers. So there you might be, in your office doing the forecast for the weekly corporate status report call if the front desk calls you in a panic, “the guests are flipping out” cries your brand-new front desk agent. You browse the calls and see that you require your engineer back on property, but his pre-paid mobile 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 head to the rooms to try to fix them. Room by room you tackle the process of explaining to your sweaty and angry guests why they cant turn their ac on full and this it should take at least 2 hours for that ice built up round the coils to melt. Then you definitely begin looking for your circuit breakers, that are scattered all over the 60 year-old property. When you make it to the last room the guest who answers the entrance almost screams on the sight in the sweaty, dirty general manager holding a tool box having a dazed look on his face. “Wasn’t this the identical guy who has been pouring us Mimosas on the pool this morning honey?” asks the guest while you begin your repairs. When the craziness has ended you receive a ask your mobile phone. Yes, it is actually your engineer returning your call. “You trying to reach me boss?”. The next day, throughout your conference phone you listen to a speech regarding how general managers need to hang out with their guests instead of inside their offices. Duh, you think while you attempt to scrub the grit from under your fingernails.
The financial realities of a boutique hotel are unique. The appearance of 3 to 5 star service with a two star finances are the standard, and the gm’s get caught in the center. The boutique hotel just does not have your budget to staff like a true luxury property and everybody has to pull how much they weigh. The gm who does not is definitely not there long and hate every second with their lives.
Along with the additional sweat and frustration for being a boutique hotel gm would be the rewards. For the best individual, they are going to realize that the entrepreneurial management style required of them is highly empowering. The gm can create a great deal of decisions independently, decisions that in a larger corporate hotel would require an approval or worse….committee discussion! The fact that some towels need to be found and maybe a drink or two be mixed and served is in fact fun in their mind. The rewards of always being before your friends and relatives are what most gm’s want anyway, but some usually are not really ready for this when they are tasked to make which happen every single day.