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Creative marketing for luxury boutique hotels: Start with SWOT

Creative marketing for luxury boutique hotels: Start with SWOT

Boutique hotels have many definitions; at times it can be difficult to come to a consensus. For that reason, I want to start this blog with my personal working definition of “boutique hotels”:

A boutique hotel generally has 150 rooms or less with unique design features (for example, rustic or chic) that provide a personalized brand of service and whose location often helps define its theme. 

There are some branded boutique hotel collections, most famously Starwood’s trendy and chic “W” and the classic Relais & Chateaux  resorts and hotels, but boutiques are typically independent, unbranded hotels with one location or are part of a small collection.

Now that we know what we are marketing, we can start getting creative about how to do so. First and foremost, the boutique hotel’s allure has nothing to do with major or typical properties, so do not compete with those hotels. In fact, do everything you can to differentiate yourself from them. The more unique or eclectic you are, the more you will stand out from the large, full-service/luxury “pack” that we do not want to compete with. The sooner you put yourself in the mindset that Marriott, Sheraton, Westin, Hyatt and even the Four Seasons and Ritz are not your competitors, the more equipped you will be to succeed in marketing your boutique hotel.  

I do not want to sound like a Marketing 101 professor, but a basic SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis is a must and needs to be updated yearly to make sure your strategy and tactical plan evolve with your marketplace. Once this is complete, two questions need to be asked and answered:

  1. Where do you currently fit within your competitive set?
  2. Where do you want to be within your competitive set?
These, more than anything, will help define your current position in the marketplace and start the thought process of how to improve it, regardless of what the answers were to the above questions. Our goal in marketing is to always improve our position in the marketplace and our perception in the eyes of our current and potential customers.  

In my next blog, I’ll address how to go about rebranding and defining how to market who you are. Stay tuned.

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