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Boutique Hotels Will Emerge from COVID-19 Stronger

Culture

Boutique Hotels Will Emerge from COVID-19 Stronger

April 15, 2020

As we approach the sixth week of relative nation-wide lockdown, we’re moving from the reactive phase to the planning phase — COVID-19 has certainly upended our current day-to-day as a society, but how will it affect our industries in the long term? Last Friday, our managing director Jay Coldren spoke on a panel hosted by the Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association: The Boutique Hotel’s Crisis Guide to Food + Beverage, where he spoke with fellow industry experts:

+ Julia Heyer of Heyer Performance
+ Steven Kamali, founder of Hospitality House
+ Jody Pennette, founder and CEO of cb5 Hospitality Consultants
+ David Klemt, editor and content curator, Bars & Restaurants 

The resulting conversation shed crucial light on the path forward for boutique hotels. We’ve rounded up some of the key takeaways from the discussion, which lay out some sectors to watch, what to plan for, and highlight some bright spots for the future of boutique hotels. 

Boutique hotels’ independent spirits and creativity are their biggest assets for navigating the COVID-19 recovery

Unlike large chain hotels, boutique hotels are more nimble and can quickly experiment with a variety of revenue-generating formats. Adding diversity to their business model by experimenting with food retail, delivery options, virtual kitchens or additional private dining could all be easily and quickly achieved in the independent/boutique hotel environment. 

Secondary and tertiary markets may see a quicker recovery

We know that international travel is likely off the table for the near term. We also suspect that the convention and group segments will be very slow to come back, as large congregations and meetings seem unwise until a vaccine is developed for the virus. This leads us to suspect that regional tourist travel will be the first segment to come back — and this is the segment where boutique hotels resonate best. Likely, this business will return to markets less devastated by the virus: secondary and tertiary markets.

Vacation travel behavior will change in the near term

Driving vacations and regionalized travel will be preferable to getting on a plane, resulting in more regional travel, staycations and short trips. Boutique hotels that market to this segment may see a quick return or even a boost in business coming out of the crisis. 

Boutiques can and will pivot: rethinking what it means to eat and drink in this “next normal”

We’re just beginning to understand how the COVID-19 crisis will lead to significant industry change — with respect to restaurants, we anticipate there could be fewer dining seats in the future, by design. How do we adapt? Diversification will be key. Looking for ways to make money during a crisis will lead to significant innovation — much of which will carry the industry into the future.

Looking for insight and help with your boutique hotel’s path forward? Please reach out to Jay Coldren — we’re committed to being strong, strategic partners and are always here to help you forward.

 

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By Jay Coldren, Managing Director, Eat + Drink