They offer intimate settings for corporate events.
BOUTIQUE hotels and group bookings donâ€™t usually go together. But that perception is slowly changing. Planners are seeing a paradigm shift in how meetings, events and conferences are conducted. The landscape has become wide enough to bring together corporate executives wishing for out-of-the-box experiences and boutique properties that are a destination unto themselves.
â€śAttendees are looking for unique experiences and personalised service,â€ť says Narun Wiwattanakrai of the 35-room Rarinjinda Wellness Spa and Resort in Chiang Mai. â€śBecause of our size, weâ€™re able to provide those who conduct programmes with us a more distinctive service.â€ť And its wellness spa, which is served by an on-site physician, adds to a highly unforgettable stay.
Planners used to be wary of booking a boutique property because they were unsure of its quality and services. But all that has changed, thanks to online reviews like tripadvisor and virtualtourist.
â€śThe hospitality scene has evolved so much, and it is changing in favour of small hotel properties,â€ť says freelance event planner Hana Nguyen.
Planners love it when they read comments such as â€śspecial little touchesâ€ť, â€śartwork in the lobbyâ€ť or â€śa pre-loaded iPodâ€ť, Hana adds, â€śas this shows the property is really aiming to create an experiential stay â€“ an increasing trait that attendees look for in todayâ€™s MICEâ€ť.
Boutique hotels are winning over MICE clients because they provide unique meeting environments and they are flexible about the services they can offer. Thatâ€™s to give just two reasons.
At Jia Shanghai, housed in a 1920â€™s European building in the heart of the city, meetings and events can be had at its chalet-inspired restaurant, the lobby with its artsy take on contemporary Chinese art and design, or even the Penthouse, which comes with its own butler. â€śLook, when you compare incentive meetings at an airport hotel conference room or something like Jia, youâ€™re always going to remember what transpired in the boutique hotel rather than the other one,â€ť says Helmi Sofyan of Jakartaâ€™s Red Carpet Events. â€śAnd in this business, you do want your event to carry forward longer in participantsâ€™ minds.â€ť
The possibility to book the entire boutique hotel and still remain within budget also allows the group to take centre stage, creating a sanctuary for attendees and providing them with a whole new level of experience. At New Zealandâ€™s Huka Lodge, where Hana recently brought in an incentive group, attendees had the entire 17 acres of manicured grounds to themselves and could do as they pleased. â€śMany of them loved the fact that the trip provided them with a retreat. Now I think thatâ€™s something worth working for.â€ť