Patrick Clarke | March 05, 2016 4:00 AM ET
What Can Toasted Lager Teach Us About Boutique Hotels?
What do independent hotels and craft brewing companies have in common?
They're both extremely popular right now. Blame it on hipsters if you want, but both major hotel and brewing companies have taken notice and are already capitalizing.
This week, Hyatt Hotels announced the launch of its newest brand, the Unbound Collection by Hyatt. The portfolio of independent luxury hotels and resorts is the latest in a slew of boutique hotel collections that include Marriott's Autograph Collection, Hilton's Curio Collection and Starwood's Luxury Collection.
The fast-rising popularity of craft beer has resulted in a similar trend.
If you like surprises, a quick Google search will reveal a handful of perceived craft breweries that are actually owned by beer brewing giants.
For example, in February 2014, Anheuser-Busch InBev agreed to purchase Blue Point Brewing Company. At the time, the Long Island, New York-based brewing company said the move would allow it to "enhance the consumer experience," according to the New York Times.
Although efforts to expand rarely come without consequence, the undeniable benefit of independent hotels or craft breweries teaming up with chains is that their product typically winds up becoming available to more people.
With access to better operating and marketing resources and the endorsement of a trusted brand, whether it be a major hotel chain or a well-known brewing company, the hotel (or beer) is likely to win over more consumers than it would have in any other scenario.
"Together, our talented brewing team and Anheuser-Busch will have the resources to create new and exciting beers and share out portfolio with even more beer lovers," Blue Point co-founder Mark Burford said in a February 2014 statement.
In the case of the Unbound Collection, Hyatt's Global Chief Marketing Officer Maryam Banikarim told TravelPulse that independent hotel owners were reaching out to the Chicago-based company in hopes of improving visibility and capitalizing on the brand's popular customer loyalty program.
Another key factor driving independent hotels' and craft brewing companies' interest in teaming up with a corporation is that they won't be asked to change what or who they are in most cases. Whether it's a popular IPA or a beloved boutique hotel in a historic part of town, the product's uniqueness is what makes it a coveted asset.
With the help of a major company like Hyatt or Anheuser-Busch, that particular IPA brewer or boutique hotel owner may suddenly find itself with the necessary financial flexibility to improve its product or amenities.
However the trick is to avoid changing what already works. When a craft beer or boutique hotel loses its character it begins to lose its allure.
Although there's an undeniable appeal to accommodations or products that succeed without the assistance of Corporate America, the latest trend of major companies gobbling up boutique and craft offerings clearly isn't bad news for consumers.
As is the case with Blue Point, you no longer have to live in and around Long Island in order to enjoy the brand's flagship Toasted Lager. And while boutique hotels aren't mass produced like beer, the increased visibility and brand confidence that a major hotel company can provide is likely to result in more guests.
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