The Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) held its annual Boutique Hotel Owners Conference on Oct. 24-26 at Westlake Village Inn in the Los Angeles suburbs.
The conference was filled with panels, debates, breakout sessions, salon-style discussions and open Q&A ranging from topics such as Top Issues Owners Face Today, How Energy Plays a Part in Creating a Boutique Hotel Experience, The Lost Art of Innkeeping, Food & Beverage – The Philosophy of Deal Making, Conscious Tourism & Slow Travel, and The Next Generation of Hotel Marketing & Branding.
The group of attendees includes Rami Zeidan, founder/CEO, Life House; Rob Blood, founder, Lark Hotels; Richard Valtr, founder, Mews; Maya Mallick, owner/creative director, The Culver Hotel; Avi Brosh, founder/CEO, Palisociety; and Brian De Lowe, president/cofounder, Proper Hospitality.
During the opening session, Ariela Kiradjian, COO/partner, BLLA, encouraged the attendees to set their intention for gaining new connections and insights over the conference days. She also reflected on her own hospitality career and shared nine lessons that have helped guide her this year, such as “Things do not always have to be so hard, sometimes letting go enables you to grow, putting a spotlight on fears actually helps heal them and vulnerability is at the core of growth.”
As emphasized on the stage, the boutique sector is clearly experiencing more of a success story than that of other hospitality segments which may rely on a bigger percentage of business travel to return. These owners, investors and developers are bullish on the future, as expressed through almost all of the discussions throughout the event.
At the End of Day Reflections & Open Mic Q&A session, Nile Tuzun, founder/chief creative storyteller, Studio Nilebrand, stated that, “Boutique hotels are very improvisational. You are nimble in the boutique business. If things are not that great, then you improvise. This way, it is experiential and experimental. You are free to do whatever is necessary for that space.”
Noteworthy quotes from the conference stage:
“There is no perfect tech stack; don’t build for just a day one experience. It has to be interactive. Make your tech companies sweat.”—Mews’ Valtr
“If you believe in your dream and you make it energetic, then things are going to happen for you and for your business.”—Alejandra DeLuca, owner, Malibu Meditations Journey
“Branding is the embodiment of a living, breathing organism, and it is not just a logo. It is how a brand moves through the world; how they walk, how they talk, what they look like, the colors they use and the emotions that they conjure.”—Tracy Campbell, design director. The Brand Terminal
“Whatever we are going through as a society, as a collective, is happening to our employees and to our community. We are all connected.”—Darlene Cordero, director of talent relations and outreach, Chopra Global