Boutique Hotel. Only the words get the imagination going. Just 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 would 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 things was but still is among Palm Springs most hip boutique hotels. I left another huge opportunity simply to be part of this excellent world. The art, the design and style, the vibe. I had never really worked anywhere having a “vibe”. Annually later and that i 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 everyone and amazing for many.
You will find a mini storm brewing within the boutique hotel world, one I don’t think most involved with this industry are aware of. With a lot more boutique hotel operators entering the playground, more and more bad hiring decisions are being made. The correct General Mangers are working at the wrong hotels. Like a square peg and a round hole, a few things just do not work. Who is to blame and what you can do?
The Boutique Hotel: First allow me to first inform you that I possess a narrow look at what really constitutes a boutique hotel. I believe that the term “Boutique” when employed to describe a hotel is often misapplied. A PR Newswire will not be based on merely a hot design, as many would argue.
A boutique hotel has to be an independent operation. Your accommodation should not be element of a collection that is certainly greater than say, 10 properties. Beyond this you receive into possessing a corporate hierarchical management style that is required in managing a large company and looking after brand consistency. Take W Hotels for example. For me these are generally not boutique hotels. They look just like a boutique hotel, even feel like one. Many boutique hotels would strive 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 very few decisions about what services are given and exactly how the home is run. A boutique hotel should be operated as near to the actual physical operation as is possible. W’s and so on are amazing, but for me don’t fit the concept of a boutique hotel. Boutique hotels are also constantly re-inventing themselves, making sure that their fickle guest never become bored and search to keep in the latest new, hip and funky property.
Travelers chose to stay at a boutique hotel because of the story, or even the experience. The experience is essential and should be unique and somewhat cutting edge. The overall demographics are individuals 20 to 50 years old, work in more creative fields like advertising or entertainment and appreciate a higher amount of service. When Ian Schrager entered the marketplace as to what many consider to become the initial boutique hotel, this demographic discovered that they could use their travel budget get them an area 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, innovative interior design and in some cases an urban location. The marketplace is expanding and also the demographic model explained earlier is starting out bleed into others. You might adequately locate a Fortune 500 CEO being at a boutique hotel. It is hard to overlook the hype.
Luxury hotel operators are scrambling in order to avoid losing market share towards the boutique world. Some hotels are actually using the “brand” off their marketing and streamlining their operations to ensure that their properties are authentically boutique. Take the Kahala Mandarin Oriental for example. This famous luxury property recently took Mandarin Oriental away so that they could operate and compete inside the new marketplace more independent hotels. They are simply “The Kahala” and are spending so much time to be authentically local and independent of any major brand identification. I believe others will follow.
In the interest of this publication, I am going to use the luxury hotel since the comparison to the boutique as most closely associate a boutique hotel with luxury travel. So what is so different about becoming a general manager in a luxury hotel versus a boutique hotel? Can it actually be that different? The basic principles are similar. The overall manager is mainly responsible for the complete everyday operation, hiring decisions, marketing, budgets, forecasting, rate strategy, facility maintenance etc… The key for both varieties of properties is guest service and guest interaction. The guest in a top end luxury hotel expects so that you can interact with the hotel general manager, as carry out the guests at a boutique property. It really is all high touch.
The real difference is the fact that a boutique hotel general manager wears just a couple more hats than the luxury general manager. A boutique general manager might be preparing complex budget forecasting spreadsheets at 10am and also at 10:30 am be clearing the pool towels from across the hotel’s salt water plunge. When was the final time you saw the overall manager of the Peninsula Beverly Hills with the arm full of towels? Don’t misunderstand me, I am aware that this general manager in the Peninsula would do this in a second, when they needed to. The typical manager of any boutique hotel Must, as there is nobody else. The one server working the restaurant can also be probably accountable for looking after the pool, taking room service orders, delivering the orders and so on…. The typical manager of a boutique hotel is oftentimes also the HR director and breaks the front side desk agents. When the gm is within California then the gm may find themselves breaking just about every position simply to avoid getting sued and fined!
Take this example; you happen to be GM of any hot boutique property within the desert. The temperature is pushing 118 degrees. Since occupancy throughout the summer season is really low, you encourage a lot of your team to adopt their vacations to get that vacation accrual off your books. Someone who goes high on this can be your chief engineer, certainly one of two engineers for your entire five acre property. He goes home to the motherland, Germany for a week. Now because it’s hot does not necessarily mean that you simply don’t have customers. Some tourists appear to love the temperature, and so it was using this type of steamy day in August. As the sun actually starts to set, your friends and relatives make their way from the pool for their bungalows. Dusk and 100 degrees, everyone switches on their aged ac units full blast so they can cool off. Your only other engineer has gone home for the entire day. It is at relating to this time that this calls start coming in. The ac units are freezing up. The previous units freeze up while they are excited full blast. Many blow the circuit breakers. So there you happen to be, within 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 brand-new front desk agent. You check out the calls and find out that you need your engineer back on property, but his pre-paid cellular phone (you cant afford to fund a cellular phone for him) is out of time -you cant reach him! So where do you turn? You visit the rooms to see if you can fix them. Room by room you tackle the challenge of explaining to your sweaty and angry guests why they cant turn their ac on full which it should take at least a couple of hours for your ice developed round the coils to melt. Then you definitely begin looking for your circuit breakers, which can be scattered all around the 60 year old property. When you reach the last room the guest who answers the entrance almost screams in the sight in the sweaty, dirty general manager holding an instrument box having a dazed look on his face. “Wasn’t this exactly the same guy who had been pouring us Mimosas at the pool this morning honey?” asks the guest while you begin your repairs. When the craziness is over you get a contact your mobile phone. Yes, it really is your engineer returning your call. “You trying to reach me boss?”. The next day, during your conference call you tune in to a speech about how general managers must spend more time with their guests as opposed to in their offices. Duh, you imagine as you try 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 funds are the standard, and the gm’s get caught in the center. The boutique hotel just lacks your budget to staff like a true luxury property and everyone must pull how much they weigh. The gm that does not will not be there long and hate every second of their lives.
Combined with the additional sweat and frustration to be a boutique hotel gm would be the rewards. For the ideal individual, they will find that the entrepreneurial management style required of those is very empowering. The gm can make a large amount of decisions on their own, decisions that in a larger corporate hotel would require an approval or worse….committee discussion! The truth that some towels have to be picked up and perhaps a drink or two be mixed and served is in fact fun for them. The rewards of always being in front of your friends and family are what most gm’s want anyway, but many are not really ready for this while they are tasked to help make which happen every day.