Marketing

What’s a Boutique Hotel in 2017?

boutique hotel trends, boutique hotels history, kwe partners

 

What are boutique hotel trends 2017? A look at  the origin of the term, what it means today, and all of its variations. Plus, what’s next. First off, as with the words luxury and gourmet, the meaning of boutique hotel has greatly changed from when it was originally used in the 80’s. Any hotel owner or manager thinking of using the word would do well to understand its first meaning and how that has morphed from then to now.

 

The term “boutique hotel” was first coined in a major way by Design Hotels in the 90’s (though if you speak about a one off “boutique”, others credit Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager in the 80’s). It was used to imply small hotels of up to 100 rooms with personalized service, upscale ( 4 ½ to 5 stars), and one of a kind. Most important to its meaning was the idea of personality through design and décor. Since then, its meaning has been diluted, which so often happens with a “mature” category. The concept has broken up into niches, and the industry giants have moved in.

 

This being said, there still are groups of boutique hotels and one offs that adhere to the original definition, such as we see in Small Leading Hotels, a group within Preferred and Leading Hotels of the World, and Design Hotels.

 

Now we’re seeing “boutiques” on the lower end of four star, and even “budget boutique” which is  widely used. How about size? One thousand room hotels are calling themselves “boutiques”. In these properties, service is no longer a defining point.

 

What most “boutiques” still seem to have in common is the original idea of hotels with personality and/or offering a lodging experience. Then we see niche boutiques themed around art (21c Museum Hotels); décor (West Elm, Restoration Hardware);  fashion (Armani, Bulgari, Missoni); and wellness (Even).

 

Major chains, Marriott/Starwood, IHG and Hilton continue to enter with various boutique brands – Autograph, Tribute, Edition, and more. At the other end are those of smaller companies like Joie de Vivre and others  in Asia.

 

What’s next in boutique hotel trends?  Companies will start to (and it’s already happening) move away from the word “boutique”, as its meaning becomes increasingly diluted so as to be almost meaningless, much as has happened with the words gourmet and luxury. What’s the next big thing?  Some might say “Lifestyle” hotels which we’re already seeing. In my opinion, the term is too vague to be meaningful. Most likely there won’t be one strong concept, but many more new niches. For instance, there’s already a Pet Hotel, Divorce Hotel, Women Hotel. With backing from a major brand in each of these categories, I can see ripe opportunities for the taking.

Interested in more travel trends 2017? Click here for another recent blogpost.

 

Luxury Travel Trends 2017

luxury travel trends

Walking the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage route in Spain, is an example of transformative travel

As we hit the half way point in 2017, what are the luxury travel trends that are shaping up? Some are a continuation of those of the past few years though with a new twist, and others are simply new. Here’s our list of the top six:

 

  • Personalization and customization. Butlers and personal concierges are expected at a top luxury hotel or resort. Their role is primarily reactive. A truly luxury experience is considered one where a resort finds out guests’ passions and special interests in advance of a stay and proactively suggests and plans activities and experiences that address those interests. Case in point: a Four Seasons Resort in the Caribbean sends a guest questionnaire in advance and designs a suggested program of resort and destination activities based on those needs.

 

  • Desire for authenticity. Everything from spa treatments and food to beverage, decor and selections in the hotel’s boutique should reflect the local culture and traditions, and give guests an opportunity to interact with that culture.

 

  • Giving back to society. Cause related marketing and the social responsibility of brands have been around for a decade or more including sustainability, recycling, voluntourism programs, and enlightened labor practices. Now, expect food waste to become a growing issue. With growing inequaiity in the world and media accounts of food shortages and starving populaces, consumers are looking at how their retail and hospitality brands are addressing this issue through food donations, upcycling and the like.

 

  • Making travel easier, from airport arrival to airport departure. With the entire process of traveling becoming more complicated and uncomfortable, hotels that can deliver a seamless door to door service, going beyond the strict hotel experience ,will build loyalty. Think airport greeters; alliances with luggage shipment companies; personal shopper to “stock” a hotel closet with clothes for a weekend getaway, eliminating the need to pack a suitcase; and a  waiting lounge for hotel guests in the airport. (this isn’t new but expect it to be more common).

 

  • Experiences and more experiences. The more they involve interactivity and special access the better.

 

  • Transformative travel. What do you do after you’ve been to Paris, Shanghai, Tuscany, Macchu Pichu,, the Taj Mahal several times? You search for experiences that are transformative – your health (wellness vacations); your spirit (ashrams, religious pilgrimages like the Camino de Santiago), your creative side (painting weeks), your mind (trips with political and economic themes like the New York Times trip to Saudi Arabia to explore the petroleum industry).

 

 

Arts Organizations: Reaching New Gens

Arts Organizations Reaching Next Gens

PNC-initiated Look!Reflect!Connect!: Art Explorations for Young Children at the Barnes Foundation


 
If you go to the opera, symphony, and possibly less so ballet in the US, most of the patrons are over 50. Arts and cultural organizations have realized they have to reach out to younger generations, especially Millennials, but also Gen Z. So no surprise museums are hosting admission free evenings with a DJ or live music. Social groups with names like “Young Contemporaries” have special programming that allows for socializing as well as cultural content. Special concerts are designed to appeal to families. Museum restaurants do themed dinners, reaching out to “foodies”. The goal? To make this demographic feel comfortable and at home, build attendance and loyalty.
One of the more comprehensive programs I’ve come across that has a community relations component as well is the PNC-initiated Look!Reflect!Connect!: Art Explorations for Young Children at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The program is aimed at bringing the arts into the lives of underserved three to five year olds. It’s a combination of interactive classroom experience and gallery visits to the Barnes. Another important element is professional development for pre-K teachers and a family event.
Seven schools participated last year representing 400 participating students. “The Barnes is committed to building greater ties with the community and serving an even broader audience, “said Tiffany Allen, Grow Up Great Coordinator of the Barnes Foundation. The Cleveland Museum of Art has a similar program.
Look! Reflect! Connect! at the Barnes was initiated as part of PNC’s Grow up Great program. Grow Up Great is a nationwide initiative at various cultural institutions in cities that PNC is present. Let’s hope other corporations and cultural institutions follow suit.

Appealing to the Child in All of Us

hotel marketing ideas 2016

Candy jars for guests at The Bulgari Hotel in Milan


 
Whether it’s the top 1% or just your average traveler, we all enjoy getting in touch with the child in us. And now, with so much negativity in the headlines, it’s truer than ever before. Things that are fun and make us smile bring back memories and create new ones. Special amenities, services and facilities don’t have to cost much. Sometimes it’s the smallest thing. Case in point, on a recent trip to Milan I saw a selection of candy jars in the entrance to the lobby lounge at The Bulgari Hotel. The candies — liquid filled jellies, house made marshmallows, and other sweet treats were there for guests for the taking. Besides the jars were cellphane bags with lovely Bulgari silk ribbons. The concierge said they were very popular with guests and are also featured at their hotel in London. The Ritz-Carlton Chicago hotel has its candy man, and nostalgic food and beverage treats like popcorn, popsicles and milk and chocolate chip cookies are making a comeback.
hotel marketing ideas 2016

The Ritz Carlton Chicago Candyman, a big hit


If you go to any of the leading, state of the art teens clubs such as the one at The Breakers in Palm Beach or at Grand Velas Resorts in the Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit you’ll see some adults without their teens kids, enjoying everything from the karaoke and virtual reality games to ping pong and X-Box Kinect. Or witness the success of the Aloft Hotels concept of retro games In the lobby, always a big draw with millennials.
Hotel marketing ideas 2016

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit teens lounge, a big hit with adults


More can be done to appeal to hotel guests and cruise travelers on this score, and think of the fun thinking up the ideas!

Zika Virus, Travel Security and PR

zika virus

In this age of global terrorism and most recently, the Zika virus, what’s the best way to handle communication about traveler security?

Here are guidelines from KWE Partners’ President & Chief Strategist Karen Weiner Escalera on public relations do’s and don’ts as reported in an article in Hotel News Now.

The most important thing not to do is send out news releases talking about a hotel’s safety and security measures, said Karen Weiner Escalera, president and chief strategist for KWE Partners. All that serves to do is remind people or alert them to the fact there are issues, she said. “For people who might otherwise not have known, it could serve to alarm them, which is the opposite of what a hotel would want to achieve,” she said.

Instead of creating a news release or email blast, hoteliers should prepare a statement to use if guests or potential guests contact the hotel with questions, she said. “The goal is not to broadcast but be ready with a statement if and when there are inquiries,” she said.

In a recent project for a resort group in Mexico, Escalera said her team prepared a letter to send to tour operators and agents to inform people asking about what the property was doing to eradicate mosquitos on the grounds to prevent spread of the Zika virus. There was also a version of the letter for the sales center and contact centers, she said.

“It’s also extremely important to advise everyone in the sales and marketing team of what the statement is,” she said. “Internal communication is critical. That’s where you’re proactive: internally.” Along with the letter explaining the resort’s efforts, Escalera said, it also explained specifically there were no reported problems at the destination.


Full Article: Hoteliers must be subtle in marketing security (Hotels News Now)

Image courtesy of The Daily Mail, UK

Best Way For Businesses to Use Snapchat

Snapchat Geofilters

 

Guest blogpost by Kevin R. Escalera

Snapchat is all in the news in marketing and advertising circles. Here’s a quick guide to geofilters, one of the best ways for businesses to use the app:

What is currently the best social media tool for brands to reach millennials?

Snapchat.

Why?

It’s the fastest growing mobile app among teens and millennials in the United States, passing Twitter and Instagram. Snapchat has over 100 million daily active users, with more accounts created each day. Over 8 BILLION videos are viewed on Snapchat each day.

How can businesses, events and brands easily use SnapChat to their advantage?

Custom branded geofilters.

Dunkin Donuts Geofilter

What are Geofilters?

A geofilter is a digital sticker that changes based on your location. Snapchat users are able to share your logo or event info without having any contact or interference from the sponsor or brand. These stickers can be added to any photo or video that you take in the Snapchat app.

Starbucks Geofilter

Why use Geofilters?

Geofilters are a fun way for brands to get in front of a lot of people attending events or visiting a store, restaurant or nightclub.

T-Pain Geofilter[2]

How do they work?

Step 1: Design a custom geofilter for your event or brand.
Step 2: Select a specific location that you are targeting using SnapChat’s Geofence tool.
Step 3: Select a date and time for your geofilter to go LIVE
Step 4: You are all set! Anyone in the area you have chosen at the selected moment who is using snapchat can see or use your filter while using the app.

What are the costs?

Minimal! Prices depend on how many hours/how large the area is but on average the costs are around $20 per hour for a mid-sized event space.

 

Solo Travel, a Market Ripe with Opportunity

afar_mag_cover-0384ab661427269734ff5c195d1be84b

 

Solo travel is a market ripe with opportunities with the industry just starting to get on board with special product and pricing.  The facts are clear. There are a lot more singles in the USA. Why? With the divorce rate hitting 53% and people living longer, which means more widows and widowers, people are spending more of their lives single. And then there are those who, though part of a couple, choose to go it alone because a partner doesn’t want an exotic trip, can’t get away at the desired dates, or needs a last minute break from a stressful job. In a Visa Global Travel Intentions Survey, in 2015 24 percent of people had traveled alone on their most recent overseas leisure vacation, up from 15 percent in 2013. With first time travelers, the numbers are even bigger – 37% in 2015 compared with 16 percent in 2013.

With these growing numbers, the travel industry is starting to take notice, and do something about it. Afar magazine devoted an entire issue to the topic and described companies that are getting on the “singles” bandwagon. Following Norwegian Cruises lead of offering studios and social lounges for solo guests without charging extra fees, small river cruise lines including Viking and AmaWaterways also got on board. Overseas Adventure Travel offers 50 no supplement tours and perks like roommate matching, making a serious statement about a commitment to single travel. And it has paid off – 40 percent of their guests come alone.

With a hint of whimsy, Four Seasons Safari Lodge in Tanzania has a Lone Ranger package that features working safaris and game drives with other solo travelers .

Probably the area where more hotels are catering to solos is in dining, with everything from a dinner -for -one menu and more communal style tables to special seating complete with reading material on request.

There’s so much more, though, that could be offered. How about hotel rooms designed for singles much as the cruise lines are doing? Or designating a month of traditionally low occupancy “solo” month where the supplement is waived? If you know of any other novel ideas, love to hear from you. Write me, Escalera@kwepr.com.

6 Things to Know About Mobile Consumers in 2016

mobile consumers 2016

 

One of the better articles I’ve read lately about the mobile consumer and some powerful statistics was in Adweek. Entitled “Dialing into Mobile Consumers 2016”, here are the article’s 6 major takeaways:

 

  • Mobile purchasing decisions are now heavily influenced by content that users generate and others read, primarily through product reviews and social media
  • Consumers are spending more time in apps than watching TV. In 2015 US smartphone and tablet users spent an average of 3 hours and 5 minutes a day using mobile apps, up from 2 hours and 51 minutes in 2014
  • 60% of buyers use mobile devices to research their purchases
  • If you combine Android and Apple stores there are over 2 million apps for consumers to download
  • According to a Pew report, 90 % of American adults own a mobile phone, 32 % an e reader and 42 % a tablet computer so a multi device approach to mobile purchasing is key
  • Building trust and having authentic content are essential

 

The author of the article on mobile consumers 2016 is Andrew Paradise, founder and CEO of Skillz, a mobile E-Sports company.

Photo courtesy of www.martechadvisor.com

Director of Happiness and Travel

happiness

 

Dubai, the Persian Gulf nation known in the travel world for the towering Burj al Arab hotel, the world’s biggest indoor ski slope, and an island that looks like a palm tree, is innovating once again with a newly announced Minister of State for Happiness. Though it’s more directed to its citizens, there’s no reason why it couldn’t set another precedent with a Director of Happiness for tourism. Think of the possibilities for destination marketing. From what I read, it would be the first.

I never heard about a Director of Happiness so went on a Google search to see what I could find in hospitality, travel, or in the business world in general. Surprise.  There are Directors of Happiness for employees, customers, and clients. And one site had a chart with the average salary for the job at $72K.  I even found a coach who specializes in happiness whose clients have included the likes of luxury brands Mont Blanc and Jaeger Le Coultre.

But let’s get back to travel and the opportunities there. I could see a destination naming a Director of Happiness as the centerpiece of a campaign to promote the idea that they go the extra mile to welcome travelers. It’d be a good publicity generator as well, provided that it’s part of a larger program that will show concrete results. Like what? First step would be  research to see what visitors would most appreciate. Friendlier locals? Meet the people type programs? More information kiosks? More public restrooms (that’d make a funny commentary)?  And think of the interview potential!

I was surprised in doing research that only one hotel has a happiness concierge – the Waidringer Hof in the Austrian Alps.
The job is described as a part concierge, guest attendant, and hiking guide. The mission: “Your pleasure is the centre of our strategy”.An admirable initiative, but needs to be more substantive.

So colleagues, you have an opportunity. And, finally, just in terms of interesting additional information, Dubai also named the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs as also having a new responsibility for “The Future”. I’d say the Director of Happiness should also be in charge of The Future wouldn’t you?

Fashion and Travel Branding

fashion and travel branding

Fashion has been used for some time  as an upscale or luxury branding tool in travel, especially for hotels and airlines. But in a new twist, we see an effective example of what it can do for a destination with Shinola and Detroit.

Big name designers have been leaving their mark on uniforms for years with airlines and hotels. Luxury designers from Armani to Versace and Missoni brand hotels and spearhead all aspects of design and sometimes even dining. Then we have had fashions made exclusively for resorts such as the  Christian Louboutin espadrilles for One & Only Palmilla , fashion popups to generate buzz and new customers, and boutiques that are destinations in themselves.  Interestingly enough, cruise lines have been slow to embrace this marketing and sales opportunity for some reason (any ideas why?).

fashion and travel branding

Now, hello fashion and destination marketing. Shinola which makes watches, high end bikes (think $2950 for a city bike) and classic design leather goods, has an advertising program that touts its Made in Detroit  roots. It plays on authenticity and a cool factor that also works to be a symbol of Detroit’s renaissance.  The graphic design of the ad campaign is sleek, classic contemporary, and pops.

fashion and travel branding

In Miami, home of its newest store, ad agency Partners & Spade opted for large placements as in full page ads, digital advertising and wall ads you could see from the highway. Photography is by the iconic Bruce Weber.  And the Miami shop was very well chosen to be in the hip artist district of Wynwood, best known for its street art. The bottom line: it’s effective in branding Detroit, heralding its rebirth, and imparting an image that’s at the same time classic and hip.  With revenues of $60 million in 2014, Shinola has also contributed jobs to the city’s rebirth. A win win for all. For more about Shinola, check out this article in the New York Times, “Detroit Cool Hits the Road”.