A boutique hotel often stands out simply because of its smaller size – you could say this is its superpower!

However, to find true success, it needs to stand out for other reasons. It needs to offer many of the amenities and services that guests can find at the bigger end of town, while delivering a unique experience.

Here, we run through what success looks like at a boutique hotel, tips for managing a successful boutique hotel and must-have features for success. We also introduce you to the boutique hotel software that can set your hotel up for success.

Your boutique hotel: What’s the measure of your success?

“Success” is the destination all business owners have in mind, but how do we get there? How do we measure progress along the way? And what things should boutique hotel owners keep in mind when aiming for success?

First of all, success can be personal. Your own business plan and goals can guide you in measuring and tracking what you define as success, whether that’s a certain revenue target, social media followers or occupancy rate. Just make sure your business goals are SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound – to make it easier to plan for and measure success.

Business metrics are another way to objectively measure success. Average room rate, occupancy rate, and RevPAR are the three key revenue metrics for small hotels. Understanding these metrics and how to calculate them provides a clear yardstick against which you can measure your achievements. 

To start boosting these metrics and achieving these goals, boutique hotels should concentrate on these three areas:

  1. Creating a strong brand and distinct identity

To compete with larger brands, you need to stand out with a strong story and visual identity. Celebrate the things that make you different and tap into the reasons guests choose to go boutique.

  1. Understanding and reaching ideal guests

Having a clear picture of the type of guests you should be targeting, and being able to reach that target market and speak directly to them, can be a game-changer for boutique hotels. 

  1. Delighting guests

Happy and satisfied guests, the type who will rave about your hotel to friends, post flattering shots of your property on social media and leave glowing online reviews, are perhaps the ultimate indicator of success.

12 crucial boutique hotel management tips

To achieve the areas of focus above, there are many specific tasks and actions you should prioritise, including:

  • Get clear on your unique selling point: remember, it’s your point of difference that will help sell your hotel
  • Invest in your brand: a professional logo, thoughtful colour palette, good quality pictures and memorable messaging will provide a springboard to help you hit your targets
  • Design your rooms and property with that special boutique flair: you might need to replicate the big hotels in some areas, but design isn’t one of them so get creative
  • Tell your story: reinforce your brand, its history and its values, via a smart digital marketing strategy
  • Get social: the opportunities are endless (and affordable) for promoting your business on social media
  • Create guest profiles: writing down everything you know about your ideal guests and use that to inform business decisions
  • Think local: guests are visiting your hometown so integrate your local community and culture into your marketing, amenities and everything you do
  • Monitor your online reviews and feedback: encourage fans to go public with their flattering feedback and treat both positive and negative reviews as a learning opportunity and an insight into how you can improve things
  • Make it easy for guests to find you: have a distribution strategy and look at online travel agencies, SEO, channel management software and more 
  • Don’t undersell yourself: get your pricing strategy right and remember that guests are prepared to pay more for a boutique experience
  • Focus on your front desk: always look for new and innovative ways to improve and streamline your front desk operations
  • Make it personal: a big reason guests choose boutique over big is to feel like a VIP rather than a room number – pay attention to the little things that will make your guests feel welcome.

Must-have features to be successful with a boutique hotel

The features of a hotel are a big selling point for potential guests, and boutique hotels need to focus on providing as many “large hotel” features as possible while including extra “boutique” features that’ll help the hotel stand out. 

The things that guests have come to expect at larger hotels, and that boutique hotels can also easily offer, include:

  • A great website
  • Easy booking and check-in
  • Incentives and loyalty reward programs
  • Free wifi and other in-room technology such as app-based customer service
  • Group activities
  • Food and beverage options
  • Comfortable beds
  • Clean rooms and quality furniture.

The more personalised and creative you can make your features, the more successful you’ll be. How can you convince guests to opt for your small hotel experience over a well-known and trusted larger brand?

Establishing your identity and branding is the first step. Then, keeping this in mind, think about crafting an experience that makes your property a preferred choice:

  • Can you offer a pet-friendly experience?
  • Can you incorporate quirky design or a “themed” experience?
  • How does your decor take people away from the everyday?
  • Are you exploring ways to highlight local art and food?
  • How can your turndown service add another layer of comfort and contentment?
  • How can you create a certain “feeling” when people walk through the door?
  • How can you go above and beyond when it comes to personalised service? A pillow and toiletries menu? Customised welcome treats?

Boutique hotel software

Boutique hotel software can help you compete with the big hotel chains while showcasing your unique qualities as a boutique property. 

It can save time for both you and your guests, untangle complexities, reduce the chance of errors and generally fast-track your success.

An all-in-one hotel property management system can help you to:

  • Build a modern, responsive website
  • Take direct bookings from your website through the use of a booking engine
  • Market your property on hundreds of channels while avoiding double bookings with a channel manager
  • Track and measure which online sales channels are generating the most bookings and get insights on daily operations
  • Keep an eye on the competitors
  • Manage reservations with drag and drop technology
  • Streamline housekeeping tasks
  • Manage your property on-the-go

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).