As more travelers are attracted to personalized travel experiences, property searches on unique hotel accommodations are increasingly appealing. Boutique hotels are popping up in big cities around the world – and creating a notable mark. But now, small cities have been the target of boutique hotel development.
According to Tourism Economics, a company that analyzes travel trends, 25% of current hotel projects under construction in the United States are boutique hotels. What is even more significant is the growth of those statistics in smaller cities.
Why the emergence of so many boutique hotels? It’s twofold: For developers and hoteliers, it’s cost-effective to find real estate opportunities and set up shop in up-and-coming areas that aren’t overcrowded or overpriced. For travelers, hotels in second-tier destinations provide places where they can create authentic, memorable experiences with high end and unique amenities.
Big Brands, Small Markets
While there are many independent hotels in small markets, many popular chains are responding to travelers’ expanding desires for more intimate experiences by rolling out collections or soft brands to accommodate their niche needs in specialized markets.
There is no longer a need for many of the large hotel brands to have the uniformity they once had. Consumers know big brands they can trust – and that there is an expectation for cleanliness, customer service, and safety. If these smaller hotels are under the larger umbrella of a hotel chain, there is an expectation that the experience will be just as high end as other locations.
For example, guests of the newly opened Unscripted hotel in Durham, N.C., can expect the same top-notch hospitality and high-quality amenities that the Dream Hotel Group offers in other bustling locations—but in the heart of the charming, southern city. In the U.S., the 74-room hotel is one of the latest boutique hotels to settle in a secondary market.
Whether it’s an offshoot of a large hotel group or an independent property a traveler is searching for, the allure of boutique hotels is high in both primary markets and smaller cities in the U.S. From creative dining options to detailed architectural designs, visitors to boutique hotels crave custom experiences, regardless of the location.
Those quirks and unique experiences are what draw visitors to stay in hotels like 21c Museum Hotels, a Kentucky-headquartered boutique chain with six other hotels (in various second-tier cities) under its umbrella. Each of the contemporary properties doubles as an art museum, which allows visitors to optimize their time by presenting artistic elements for them to explore. Preservationists and art collectors Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown launched their hotel enterprise with 21c Louisville a decade ago with the aim of revitalizing the city’s downtown area by offering the community a mix of hospitality and culture.
Room to Grow
Boutique hotels can also get a lot of visibility. Through social media and travel ranking and agency websites like trip advisor, it’s easier for secondary market hotels to access travelers from out of town and appeal to experiential desires.
While getting the word out about these emerging boutiques might seem easy, some experts worry that down the road there will be too many options in the same market. While nationally there is not an over construction of these boutique hotels, in certain markets there may be too many in a short timeframe to continue with success. The verdict may still be out on the longevity of the boutique hotel boom in second-tier cities, but the progression shows no signs of slowing down.
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