The concept of a boutique hotel has never found a true definition, as it has been an evolving term that continues to redefine itself with less clarity. I think there’s a generally acceptable set of defining principles that outline the boutique hotel, whether by design, service style, size, amenity offerings or anything else — we likely all have a relatively healthy understanding that is similar in nature. Basically, we’d agree on most things related to this category of hotel.
However, just as I seem to hear the classification “boutique hotel” used for everything that is not “branded” in the traditional sense, I have found myself seeing the concept of bespoke in everything, adapting the word’s original definition deriving from clothiers who made clothes to a buyer’s specification. It seems the online revolution has launched mainstream bespoke, as custom clothes (at least for men) seem to be far more available to the masses. It’s great — everything fits exactly as you want it to, so long as you don’t change size too much.
We hear about bespoke cocktails all the time with the successful opening of these exceptionally creative, highly innovative gastro wonders. I really do enjoy a drink that is made on the spot, with little direction and using little input from me. I’ve only ever had a few poorly made drinks or drinks I didn’t care much for, and each time, the mixologist didn’t flinch. S/he offered another one to be invented more to my taste, having picked up valuable information from my response/commentary and adjusting his/her creativity to account for something different. I have never needed to get to a third drink until I was satisfied at one of these places.
Bespoke events and catering
Beyond the bar, move to event(s) production and the coordination it involves. Huge production companies are popping up all over the world, offering a range of services from planning, marketing and production management to cost administration and sales/ ticket distribution. The firms that have the ability to offer point-and-shoot services are increasingly utilizing the word bespoke to describe their business model’s flexibility.
Bespoke professional services
Aren’t law firms, accounting practices and consultancies bespoke as well? They certainly can slice and dice how they operate based on a particular client’s needs, and, to some degree, offer bespoke pricing on those services. It’s possible to literally keep breaking things up.
Even getting to technology manufacturing companies, many of the largest fabricators offer a wide array of services based on the various items being made — parts of the overall process to complete a good.
It seems the word bespoke is on its way to the lofty position the word boutique has risen to over the last 20 years — eventually, everything will just be bespoke, and no one will really know what it means anymore.
Marketers have taken hold of boutique and it’s become normal speak, so let’s not kill a classic term with a specific definition. It’s the word of the now, but let’s not blur the line so much that we forget what it means as it becomes overused.
It really just sounds like, “We can offer you anything and everything at whatever the price. What would you like? We’ll make it happen.” What happened to being niche and specialized, like a bespoke tailor or a boutique hotel?