It's very difficult for a large brand to recreate the experience of a local boutique properties, which is why several groups like Hilton would rather align themselves with iconic hotels than try to build them itself.
This is much of the same way in which global retail chains like Forever21 and H&M recreate the fashion staples first created by exclusive fashion designers.
When asked whether it’s possible for large hotel brands to mass produce boutique experiences, Jason Pomeranc, co-founder of the Thomson Hotel Group, made this fashion-to-hospitality comparison.
“It’s not about the reproduction of boutique or lifestyle on scale. Think about fashion. Exclusive brands create something and then other companies mass produce it. What the chains are really doing are adopting to consumers’ expectations,” explains Pomeranc in a panel discussion during last week’s NYU hospitality conference in Manhattan.
Marriott was among the first big brands to enter the boutique market with its Autograph Collection, which lists existing properties under the Marriott brand name. Others like InterContinental Hotels Group, which refers to its Hotel Indigo properties as “branded boutique,” and even Starwood‘s trendsetting W brand are looking to build a more boutique experience from the bottom up.
Other hoteliers including Jay Stein, COO of Hampshire Hotels Management, also observe how hotel brands are adjusting their products to meet customers’ refined expectations.
“Our industry is realizing this is the way that hotels should have been — highly stylized places to meet — instead of inclusive areas for everyone. I think it makes sense now that brands are starting to look like lifestyle brands.”
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Photo credit: People walk past the window of an H&M textile shop in this longtime exposure photograph taken in Frankfurt December 4, 2013. Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters