Boutique hotels is a new concept of hospitality in the travel industry in Peru. Many travelers around the world are willing to expericence this new way of service but there are still a few businesses in Lima that seem to be excited by this new trend or even try to invest in this new concept.
In order to provide more information out there, to people related to the industry, or maybe students interested in studying this potential market, I will try to provide some basics.
So let´s start with a simple question, what is the difference between a traditional hotel and a boutique hotel? well, there are a few differences, but they are more than enough to convince the most timid traveller to try, in his or her next new trip, this new way of hospitality service.
One important difference is the size. While many traditional hotels tend to allocate several rooms and suites in the building, boutique hotels do just the opposite, they hold just a bunch of them, usually from eight or nine to fifteen or sixteen, keeping the balance in the relation to the quality of service. Boutique hotels would not like to jeapordize their main feature (quality in service) by adding too many rooms in their stablishments.
I would like to take a pause to mention a couple of things. Many people talk about quality and service, two words that have been overused and missused in the business arena, not only in Peru but through out the world as well. When I mention these two words, I really mean them, quality and service become the two solid foundations that hold the concept of a boutique hotel, they both materialize in front of the guest, they become a concrete and massive experience and explodes to multi-positive consequences in the memories of a stranger, but not only for the visitor but to the one that provides the service as well.
I am not saying that traditional hotels provide a poor customer service or that they treat their guests with low standards of attention, by the contrary, I deeply believe we can and have learnt a lot from traditional hotels, they actually have provided important fundamentals. What I most refer to, is that boutique hotels tend to provide a different type of service, a more personal one, one that I call face-to-face service. This face-to-face service generates and crafts unforgetable experiences and rich memories in the minds of the guests. And how is this done? well, think of a typical tourist that comes to Peru and stays in a traditional hotel, the mindset of that tourist is that he will be attended first by a typical recepcionist in a typical counter and asked the typical questions, maybe this tourist will be standing in line holding a carry-on waiting for a turn, in other words, just a typical check-in or introduction that many of us have experienced.
Now, think of a boutique hotel, small, original, maybe an old mansion redesigned with unique arquitecture and style, imagine the owner of the hotel waiting in the entrance to greet and welcome the guest with his or her name, what do you think that visitor is going to think right at that moment? you are right, he or she is going to think “I am not just another guest, I am an important guest”. Remember, there is not a second chance to make a first impression, so make sure, if you are in the hospitality business, to make the most of that welcome moment, of that first encounter that will not repeat itself.
In Casa Bella, I could say that I have my first encounters with my guests not at the entrance but in the internet. Not too many people realize that the process of communcation, specially the written one, is the key to generate trust and confidence with your guest. I have many guests come to me and say “you know.. I am staying with you just because the way you responded” … this is so gratifying and rewarding to what you do. So here is another difference, guests staying in a boutique hotel do not get just another default email with confirmation, they get a personalize email welcome them to the business At least, that is what we do in Casa Bella, we take several minutes on how we respond to each and every of our guests. So, the experiece starts way before a guest´s arrival, it starts when your visitor is first contacted by the manager, assistant or owner of the hotel.
Don let just the words quality and service slide through your education and formation as a professional, make sure you certainly live by them.
To all the people in the hospitality buesiness, I would say, keep an eye on this new concept and embrace its philosophy, as you will see more of it in the coming years.
Orlando Sanchez A.
Casa Bella Boutique Hotel
En: Travel el 19 June, 2010