An Interview with Marissa Ballan — Photo by BLLA

BLLA: What are you hoping to get out of your participation in the Boutique Hotel Investment Conference?

MB: I am excited to participate in the BLLA Boutique Hotel Investment Conference because it is bringing together a dynamic group of lodging industry leaders who are committed to the boutique model and motivated to explore what the future holds. I’m hoping to hear from colleagues in the field about how they’re innovating, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the exciting things that are happening at citizenM.

BLLA: How did you come to enter the hospitality industry?

MB: I came into the hospitality industry from the corporate finance/investment banking side, where I had the opportunity to cover the lodging industry as a research analyst. From there, I realized I could use the same analytical and quantitative skill set to evaluate assets rather than companies, and my focus sharpened to specifically hotel acquisitions. Eventually, I transitioned to the hospitality owner side and have been able to use my investment and asset management experience to help citizenM grow its portfolio substantially in the U.S.

BLLA: What does boutique mean to you?

MB: Boutique is about guest personalization and brand differentiation — understanding and prioritizing the core needs of our guests and using this focus to provide the kind of exceptional, seamless experience that builds long-term loyalty. For us at citizenM, boutique means a network of design-forward, tech-enabled yet personalized affordable luxury hotels in the best urban locations worldwide, with offerings that support work, leisure, and the other blended elements of our guests’ mobile lifestyles.

BLLA: What are the top three trends that you see in the boutique hotel investment space?

MB: There are a number of important trends in the boutique hotel investment space today, but a few stand out. We’re seeing ESG factors take on a greater role in hotel investment conversations, and this is something we are committed to pursuing at citizenM. There is also a new appetite for a broader range of deal structures, including co-developments and joint ventures, which we’re always eager to explore in our development projects. And of course, site selection is more important than ever before, so being able to identify markets and specific locations with diverse demand drivers is what makes a successful boutique hotel investment today.

BLLA: Why do you believe boutique hotels are a good investment?

MB: From our perspective, it’s clear why boutique hotels are a good investment: The boutique model enables the creation of a strong brand and meaningful experiences and encourages long-term guest loyalty — which makes for a more robust and resilient investment in a wider range of market conditions.

About BLLA

The official organization for the world's boutique lifestyle hospitality leaders promoting connection, education, and advocacy. As a pioneer in forecasting the boutique movement, BLLA's boutique community currently extends to more than 10,000 verified boutique and lifestyle hotels. The BLLA Corporate Manifesto video. BLLA is a catalyst for trends and the future of the boutique lifestyle, exactly what today's traveler is embracing. / BLLA is also a capital/partner matchmaker via it's Boutique Money Group division.

Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA)

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