How to Make Your Boutique Hotel More Distinguished
By Didi Lutz President, Didi Lutz PR | May 2010
Let's face it, boutique hotels have their work cut out for them when they start out, rebrand or renovate. As we've explored in the past, a big part of a boutique hotel's success is left in Marketing and Public Relations. And while both are mutually exclusive disciplines, they often times work well together to provide a more integrated approach for overall success.
We all know that in the first six to eighteen months of a hotel's opening, the buzz that is created helps feed news, media curiosity and guests who decide to stay a night or two by taking advantage of your promotional introductory rate. But what are the key elements in play that make your boutique hotel more distinguished -- a description that will last over time? How do we sustain the almighty Word of Mouth?
Here are some ideas to consider as you strategize your 2007 marketing and public relations process:
Invest in PR and Marketing. It sounds obvious, but as I've said many times, this is a process that may take some time. Finding the right people to represent your hotel, negotiating with them and making sure they are aligning outreach efforts with your initiatives and goals. Giving public relations professionals some time to bring their plan/outline to life is essential. Just because you want the hotel to be on the cover a Forbes, does not mean it will happen that month, or at all for that matter. Be realistic in your expectation of return, but certainly keep track of overall performance and adjust accordingly. Regardless, PR contributes directly to the Word of Mouth component, via number of impressions, increased web traffic and in some cases, reservations are booked from PR sources.
Specialize, find your niche. While this is something you may have thought you could determine before your boutique hotel opens, you would be amazed how this could change within the first five years. Markets change, and so do demographics, so be prepared to make some adjustments if your "niche" turns out not to be the right fit for you. Once you determine your market and client base, it will be easier to determine what your hotel can offer that no one else does. It could be location, special amenity, technology, unique features, level and quality of service, or something as small as a custom scent in every room, for example. Capitalizing on your niche is essential when distinguishing your hotel.
Create packages/luxury experiences for the purpose of being creative, not to sell them. As absurd as that may sound, it is true! I remember when one of my clients decided to promote a package named after a popular primetime TV series. I don't think it sold much, but it certainly gave everyone a lot to talk about. This brought the hotel in a new light, both in the media and around town. It was a unique package that very few hotels thought of, and was very successful in the PR spotlight. However, as easy as it is for boutique hotels to create these packages (since they have the flexibility), it is just as important to be organized and communicating the components of the package to all departments who are involved. Using your flexibility to your advantage can make all the difference.