Boutique Hotels: Rethinking the Fundamentals in a New Business Environment
By Brenda Fields Founder, Fields & Company | March 06, 2010
The cost effectiveness of technology, coupled with its global reach, has contributed to the new hotel environment. With the encouraging business outlook, hotels are now, more than ever, in a position to assess the new business environment and to establish a strategic business plan which incorporates these changes and are designed to grow and adapt to changing market conditions.
Technology has brought numerous advantages to conducting business, including servicing existing customers and in reaching new markets. But as a service industry, it is important to ensure that technology is used to enhance guest satisfaction, especially in the case of free-standing boutique hotels. One key factor that differentiates boutique hotels from large or chain affiliated hotels is its personalized service.
Therefore, in order to benefit from the many applications of technology (i.e. reducing expenses, generating demand, and increasing guest satisfaction), and to simultaneously maintain the personalized services characteristic of boutique hotels, it is important for owners and managers to re-think and evaluate the following key areas:
Regardless of the size of the marketing budget, the Web has evolved into the most important component of the marketing plan. Properly developed, executed, and maintained, the Web will, at a minimum cost, effectively reach local, domestic, and international markets. It is especially important to understand the difference between the two key components, i.e. the artistry of the design and the technology, and how to integrate the two. Many times, Web sites are created by technology professionals who do not understand the nuances of marketing; and vice versa, marketing professionals who design a Web site only from a visual perspective, without consideration of how key technical components, built in, can drive demand.
An effective Web site design and effective an on-line distribution strategy require expertise. The lay person is bombarded with many ideas and is left wondering which approach to take. Therefore, if relying on expert advice, it is important to have a customized plan to accomplish specific short term goals, as well as ensure that the Web site is well positioned for future technological advances and for advancements with the search engines, in order to minimize financial risks.