Boutique Hotel. Only the words get the imagination going. Before I dog eared the pages of Herbert Ypma’s first Hip Hotels book I was fascinated with the realm 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 magnificent photos. Working hard to make a career out of the hotel industry, I was convinced that I just had to be associated with a boutique hotel someday.
That someday came true, when in 2004 I was invited to get the overall manager of the things was and still is just one of Palm Springs most hip boutique hotels. I left another huge opportunity in order to be a part of this excellent world. The art, the style, the vibe. I needed never really worked anywhere having a “vibe”. A year later and that i knew, I knew what many inside the hotel business tend not to…what exactly it is really enjoy being the gm of the hip, cool boutique hotel. It’s not for anyone and amazing for a lot of.
There is a mini storm brewing in the boutique hotel world, one I don’t think most associated with this industry know about. With increasingly more boutique hotel operators entering the playground, increasingly more bad hiring decisions are now being made. The right General Mangers work on the wrong hotels. Like a square peg as well as a round hole, some things just do not work. Who may be to blame and what you can do?
The Boutique Hotel: First permit 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 utilized to describe a hotel is usually misapplied. A prnewswire.com is not really based on simply a hot design, as much would argue.
A boutique hotel must be an unbiased operation. The resort must not be part of a collection which is a lot more than say, 10 properties. Beyond this you receive into having a corporate hierarchical management style that is required in managing a large company and looking after brand consistency. Take W Hotels as an example. In my view these are generally not boutique hotels. They search like a boutique hotel, even feel as if one. Many boutique hotels would make an effort to be as great as being a W. But a W Hotel is run and managed with a rzaufu corporation. The property level management makes not many decisions in regards to what services are offered and how the property is run. A boutique hotel must be operated as near to the actual physical operation as is possible. W’s and so on are fantastic, but in my opinion don’t fit the meaning of a boutique hotel. Boutique hotels can also be constantly re-inventing themselves, ensuring that their fickle guest never get bored and look to stay at the latest new, hip and cool property.
Travelers made a decision to stay at a boutique hotel because of the story, or perhaps the experience. The knowledge is very important and should be unique and somewhat cutting edge. The typical demographics are individuals 20 to 50 years old, operate in more creative fields like advertising or entertainment and appreciate an increased level of service. When Ian Schrager entered the marketplace with what many consider to be the initial boutique hotel, this demographic found that they might use their travel budget get them a room at a cool, hip hotel as opposed to a generic mid-level branded property. As well as the boom started.
Boutique hotel guests enjoy experiences, unique architecture, leading edge interior decorating and perhaps an urban location. The market is expanding and also the demographic model explained earlier is starting out bleed into others. You may adequately locate a Fortune 500 CEO being at a boutique hotel. It really is difficult to overlook the hype.
Luxury hotel operators are scrambling to avoid losing market share for the boutique world. Some hotels are in fact utilizing the “brand” off their marketing and streamlining their operations to ensure that their properties are authentically boutique. Consider the Kahala Mandarin Oriental for example. This famous luxury property recently took Mandarin Oriental away to make sure they could operate and compete within the new marketplace of more independent hotels. They are simply “The Kahala” and are spending so much time to get authentically local and independent of a major brand identification. I think others follows.
In the interests of this publication, I am going to make use of the luxury hotel because the comparison for the boutique because most closely associate a boutique hotel with luxury travel. So what is so different about becoming a general manager at a luxury hotel versus a boutique hotel? Can it actually be that different? The fundamentals are identical. The overall manager is mainly responsible for the whole everyday operation, hiring decisions, marketing, budgets, forecasting, rate strategy, facility maintenance etc… The real key both for kinds of properties is guest service and guest interaction. The guest with a top quality luxury hotel expects to be able to interact with your accommodation general manager, as do the guests at a boutique property. It really is all high touch.
The main difference is that a boutique hotel general manager wears only a few more hats compared to 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 last time you saw the typical manager of the Peninsula Beverly Hills having an arm packed with towels? Don’t get me wrong, I know the general manager in the Peninsula would do that in a second, when they needed to. The typical manager of a boutique hotel HAS to, because there is nobody else. The one server working the restaurant is also probably responsible for looking after the pool, taking room service orders, delivering the orders and on and on…. The general manager of any boutique hotel may also be also the HR director and breaks the top desk agents. If the gm is within California then your gm might find themselves breaking pretty much every position just to avoid getting sued and fined!
Take this example; you are the GM of a hot boutique property in the desert. The temperature is pushing 118 degrees. Since occupancy through the summer season is suprisingly low, you encourage lots of your team to take their vacations so you can get that vacation accrual off your books. One of those who takes you on this is your chief engineer, one of two engineers for the entire five acre property. He goes home to the motherland, Germany for any week. Now because it’s hot does not always mean that you simply don’t have customers. Some tourists manage to love the warmth, so it was using this steamy day in August. Since the sun begins to set, your friends and family make their way from the pool to their bungalows. Dusk and 100 degrees, everyone turns on their aged air conditioning units full blast to allow them to cool down. Your only other engineer went home for the day. It is actually at about this time that this calls start coming in. The ac units are freezing up. The existing units freeze up while they are turned on full blast. Many blow the circuit breakers. So there you happen to be, in your office doing the forecast for the weekly corporate status report call when the front desk calls you in a panic, “the guests are flipping out” cries your brand-new front desk agent. You look into the calls and discover you need your engineer back on property, but his pre-paid cellular phone (you cant afford to fund a cell phone for him) has run out of time -you cant reach him! So what do you do? You visit the rooms to try to 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 and this it will require a minimum of two hours for the ice established round the coils to melt. Then you certainly start looking for your circuit breakers, which can be scattered throughout the 60 year old property. By the time you get to the last room the guest who answers the doorway almost screams in the sight in the sweaty, dirty general manager holding a tool box having a dazed look on his face. “Wasn’t this the identical guy who had been pouring us Mimosas at the pool today honey?” asks the guest while you begin your repairs. When the craziness is over you receive a call on your cell phone. Yes, it really is your engineer returning your call. “You seeking to reach me boss?”. The following day, throughout your conference call you tune in to a speech regarding how general managers have to hang out with their guests as opposed to inside their offices. Duh, you imagine while you try to scrub the grit out of under your fingernails.
The financial realities of the boutique hotel are unique. The appearance of 3 to 5 star service having a two star finances are the standard, and the gm’s get caught in the center. The boutique hotel just lacks your budget to staff just like a true luxury property and everybody has to pull how much they weigh. The gm that does not will never be there long and hate every second of the lives.
Combined with the additional sweat and frustration for being a boutique hotel gm would be the rewards. For the ideal individual, they will find that the entrepreneurial management style required of these is highly empowering. The gm can easily make a great deal of decisions independently, decisions that in a larger corporate hotel would require an approval or worse….committee discussion! The reality that some towels have to be found and perhaps a drink or two be mixed and served is really fun in their mind. The rewards of always being in front of your friends and family are what most gm’s want anyway, however, many are not really ready because of it when they are tasked to help make that happen each day.