If you are a hospitality design professional then you are probably familiar with the design fair that has been held in NY and LA the past few years. As one of the fastest-growing fairs in the US, a great number of vendors, designers, hoteliers and investors attend. This year, the Mason D+D team attended BD West at the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown LA .
After two days of conferences, here are our six takeaways:
1.The Definition of “Boutique” Is A Work In Progress
Some people used to think a hotel needed to be under forty keys to be called a boutique hotel, others think under 100 keys. Today, what really defines a boutique hotel is the personalized treatment that makes it feel like an elevated version of your own home. From Dan Welborn (The Gettys Group) to Kevin Robinson and Mario Tricoci (Aparium Hotel Group), the common thread seems to be an effort to provide a unique experience and to be part of the community.
2. Boutique Hotels Are Expanding Into Secondary Markets
New York, SF, and Chicago are saturated with boutique hotels. Major players in the boutique space such as Lark Hotels and The Freehand are focusing on smaller markets such as New Orleans and Memphis. The reason for this is the high concentration of universities, charming cultural histories, and a shift in many American travel patterns to venture into their nearby backyards rather than to explore a far away land.
3. More Than A Minibar
Boutique Hotels such as The Ace Hotel in NYC and The Freehand in Miami are focusing on creating unique experiences. For example, a room with high-end ironing equipment for the business traveler who values better quality pleat lines. Another example is a lobby that doubles as an intimate concert venue in Nashville, where music is the king of the scene or a lobby that serves as a coworking space like the Ace Hotel in NYC.
4. Betting on Boutique
Many hotels are adding boutiques to their portfolios. The established brand Marriott is opening well-designed, incredibly unique spaces. Unlike the assembly-line design style used on their typical large properties, these corporations are employing interior designers from outside their walls to bring in fresh looks on new spaces. They recognize the importance of the Instagram moments designers like Commune Design and Studio Collective can create for millennial travelers.
5. Hospitality Is Changing
Even at a fair full of hospitality experts, Airbnb a few of years ago was a topic barely touched. Today, Airbnb has a real presence in the market and it has been a disruptor in the industry. Kevin Robinson from Lark Hotels said that Airbnb differs from boutique hotels in that Airbnb leaves you on your own in a new city while boutique hotels provide a more attentive introduction to the community. New, blended concepts like Freehand are changing the way hoteliers see customers. Even WeLive is being talked about and pretty soon the way we travel may change again.
6. Hold On To Your Notepad
Don’t lose your notepad! Yes, I took plenty of notes from a great conference but my notepad decided to stay somewhere in sunny LA. If you find it, please text me (my phone number is on the pad).
Hope to see you at BD-NY in the Fall!