This was my first year in attendance at the Boutique & Lifestyle Summit organised by the publishers of Boutique Hotel News, and I have to say it was very educational. A couple of hundred hotel industry professionals gathered to listen to experts on topics ranging from sustainability and hotel investment to pub refurbishment.
My own brief appearance was on a panel discussing “soft brands” alongside senior figures from Preferred Hotels and the Luxury Hotels Group, both of which offer marketing support to independent hotels in a broadly similar way to Pride of Britain. It was a lively conversation, chaired by the energetic Michael Prager, which could probably have gone on all day if we’d been allowed.
Apparently the 10 largest hotel chains have between them spawned 113 different “brands”, many of these giving the appearance of being small and quirky takes on the “boutique” theme. We wish them well, though it seems our customers still favour the outstanding hospitality to be found at the best independent hotels.