DEBATE: Should boutique hotels go down the retail route?

Should retail be a key revenue-maximising focus for boutique and lifestyle hotels?

Is retail – from novel nic nacs sold in the lobby to price tags on branded bathrobes and hotel artwork for example – a revenue stream with lots of potential or a pitch too far that could put off guests?

Nassar Khalil
Principal consultant, Nassar Khalil and Associates

Maximising revenue through retail in boutique hotels has been a challenge for decades, put simply it is not a revenue driver. Making every guest touch point an opportunity to generate revenue is a mistake in today’s reviews and reputation-driven market. Refocusing resources to maximise revenue through retail would have a negative impact on value perception and guest experience.

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Kamran Mahmood
Business development, Henley Homes

It should be done in a tasteful manner in line with the brand standards the hotel aspires to. Every activity in a hotel should be focused on exceeding expectations of the guest, these expectations will vary from the location of the hotel to the price you pay, and hence any retail offering should reflect this. For instance, in some hotels the sale of the hotel “scent” may be exactly what the guests expect, in others this will simply be a step too far.

Iain Ainsworth
Founder and creator, White Line Hotels Ltd

Boutique hotels offer perfect retail space and this can be an attractive brand extension. Sales can be generated from guests seeking to take away a piece of the lifestyle on show. This prime retail space can also be offered to local producers, and further revenue can be generated from post-visit sales online. A note of caution, the product lines must reflect the ethos of the boutique hotel — the offering should be well sourced and be original.

Adnan Ali
Revenue director, The Works Aparthotel, Manchester

Retail facilities are fast becoming a critical component of the hospitality industry’s revenue stream. Priced correctly, a retail integration could prove to be very fruitful. If priced incorrectly, a hotel revenue-maximising venture could turn into an area for window shopping only.

David Maranzana
Cofounder, Epoque Hotels

Retail products can be valuable for the hotel and guests if they are truly boutique products that cannot be found easily elsewhere; they enhance and reinforce the image and aesthetics of the hotel and serve as a reminder of the guest’s stay. However, it rarely becomes a revenue stream, and a hard sell may be viewed negatively by guests.

Matthew Brooks
Cofounder and CEO, SmartOtels

Retail sales should aim at enhancing the boutique experience. That appeal will drive more business for the hotel’s primary focus — maximising the revenue from rooms and food and beverage. Making retail sales a key focus can detract from the experience and damage the core business.





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