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FEATURE: What can jewellery retailers learn from boutique hotels?

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More often than not, when our editor visits a leading jeweller in the UK, the director will cite boutique hotels as a source of inspiration.

Why? Because boutique hotels are on the rise in the hospitality sector, with increasing numbers choosing to stay in a unique environment that offers them both service and style.

Boutique hotels are champions of individuality, luxury, and service. The best of them create an experience that will have customers telling their friends all about it; sharing their memories online; and, ultimately, coming back for more — all things independent jewellers should be trying to achieve too!

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A top boutique hotel will stay in a person’s mind for a long time because the look and feel of the place creates a unique and memorable experience.

“Unlike many other sectors, the boutique hotel industry has an easily identifiable USP. The boutique sector caters for individuality and a unique customer experience. True luxury is an escape from whatever is considered ‘the norm’ and these hotels celebrate this,” says director of Park Grove Unique Interiors director, Lori Pinkerton-Rolet.

Hannah Lohan of Hannah Lohan Interiors adds: “Staying at a boutique hotel is a treat that people will spend their money on as it’s a lovely thing to do. It’s inspiring for other industries to examine the design details that contribute to the overall hotel experience, to see what they can take away for their own customers.”

Like the hotel sector, it’s important for a jeweller to have a USP. Why should people shop in one store over another? What makes a jewellery retailer stand out from its competitors? What personality is a company trying to convey?

Customers are looking for environments that are distinctive yet welcoming.

The USP and the brand must remain strong and at the centre of any design changes.

Hannah Lohan explains why this is important when revamping or opening a new store: “Always go back to the story you’re trying to tell and make sure it’s reflected in the interior design. When we take a brief from a client we always ask for their key adjectives that their brand should evoke — for example do you want your customers/ clients to be energised, surprised, calm or tranquil? You can use these words to keep everything from your logo and website, to the design of the space consistent.”

Once the brand look, feel, and vision is established, nothing is more paramount than making a great first impression.

Zoe Monk, the editor of the UK’s leading hotel trade publication, Boutique Hotelier, says: “Hotels are instantly judged on the look and feel of their environment, right from the moment a guest steps through the door. This first impression can really make or break a guest experience, and with hotels battling for trade, nailing this aspect is crucial for repeat business.”

It’s important for the physical retail experience to have the ‘wow’ factor right from the moment a customer lays eyes on a jewellery store. This is why design is a vital ingredient.

For the exterior, Hannah Lohan advices jewellers not to make the entrance or welcome feel intimidating. She recommends: “Be clear where you want people to go; make sure the space feels friendly and interesting; and don’t overwhelm customers with too much information all in one go.”

She continues: “It’s all about the guest or customer journey. What’s the first thing they see on arrival?  Where can they put their coat? Who’s going to greet them? Where can they sit or stand? What do you want them to see? If you want them to buy jewellery then make them comfortable, light the products well, and have everything displayed nicely. Offer them a glass of bubbly and think about where they’ll put it while they’re trying on things.  It’s all about giving the most enjoyable experience possible.”

When it comes to interior design details, the experts say the little touches simply cannot be ignored.

Boutique hotels provide a source of inspiration for jewellers looking to shake-up the sector.

Lohan shares: “Boutique hotels cleverly create a home from home feel by making a cosy and welcoming space. It’s all about the design details and giving a place a lovely vibe with dressing and styling touches. It’s also all about the senses — is the temperature ok and not too warm or cold? Is the lighting level right and flattering? Is there a smell that’s instantly recognisable?”

For jewellers, the secret really lies in perfectly blending luxury, with hospitality. Consumers want to feel special, but they also want to feel at home. They want a place to look distinctive, but also familiar — and that’s why leading jewellers are looking to boutique hotels for inspiration.

When considering these points, colour and lighting are two factors that can make or break a space.

“The general public are very design savvy these days, and how you furnish a hotel, shop, jewellers etc, says everything about your brand from the moment you walk through the door,” says Lohan. “Colour and light play a massive part and set the mood. A very brightly lit space is not only unflattering but doesn’t create a calming environment you want to hang out in for long. The colour palette of a room, from the walls to all the furniture and fabrics should always reflect your brand and the type of demographic you want to attract.”

“Don’t forget the lighting outside of the cases,” warns Pinkerton-Rolet. “Lighting is all about balance. If you have cleverly lit cabinets with the wrong ambient lighting surrounding them product focus will be entirely lost. If ambient lighting is too high or low it will impact how welcoming or dramatic the space appears.”

Pinkerton-Rolet also urges jewellers to not forget the importance of scale. She explains: “You can’t make a grand space with only small elements and if what you are selling is relatively small balancing grand scale interior interventions without diminishing the impact of the goods themselves is a balancing act.”

When a jewellery retailer is looking to revamp a space or open a brand new store, they must consider what it will look like empty and busy, especially as on today’s high street the customer could easily experience the store in both scenarios.

Design wise, texture and colour blocking is going to be big for 2019!

In the boutique hotel sector, companies are moving away from the once popular shabby chic and rustic feel in favour of a much slicker look.

Mixing strong colours with patterns and textures is a dominant trend this year. It is all about layering, which makes interiors feel and look really interesting and tactile.

Boutique hotels are also turning their heads to the 1970s — where striking tiles shine alongside glamorous cooper and gold finishes.
A strong focal point is also recommended — this can be a permanent feature, or something that is changed and updated regularly.

Pinkerton-Rolet concludes: “The good boutique hotels really put thought into a full and unique customer experience, and do not rely on simply different room themes.  This focus sometimes includes the history of the hotel and/or its location — a back-story of sorts. Other sectors would benefit from this same attention to detail approached from a customer viewpoint.”

Stacey Hailes

The author Stacey Hailes

Editor, Professional Jeweller

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