Meet Frances and Ariela Kiradjian, the mother-daughter duo making waves in the world of boutique hospitality. The Kiradjians are the driving force behind Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association (BLLA) and a vision behind redefining what boutique means in this ever-changing industry.
Founded by Frances in 2009 when "boutique" was a new and barely-known concept, BLLA stands today as the central association of the boutique & lifestyle community. With over 1,000 members, BLLA is a go-to source to educate and inspire the world of boutique.
"Boutique now means more than just hotels," says Ariela. "It's an experience-and any industry can join the community." Continues Frances, "BLLA is redefining what boutique hospitality means. And it's at the forefront of integrating the community into other sectors like fashion, design, wellness, lifestyle and food & beverage."
While BLLA was initially a West Coast operation, it soon made sense for Ariela to make a move to New York to expand the BLLA presence in the city.
I moved here to meet and expand BLLA's network not only in hospitality, but also fashion, food & beverage, retail and fitness. BLLA is in a very interesting period of growth, we're both moving in many directions and also creating a closer community. Now that we have offices on both coasts, there's so much more that we'll be doing with our events, media content, booking platform, shopping network and membership.
Last year, the duo announced the launch of BLLA's Stay Boutique platform, a direct booking site for boutique and lifestyle hotels. "Stay Boutique's main role is hosting the official list of boutique & lifestyle hotels in the world, which is a vital service for our community," says Ariela. "The site's second essential function is as a booking platform where the property is able to retain all of the money from every booking; we take zero dollars, which is a boon to the properties themselves."
Each year, the duo puts on BLLA's annual New York Boutique Hotel Investment Conference in June (this year it starts June 6), where the industry's most prominent names come together to dissect the boutique space. This is where Ian Schrager declared that the boutique industry needs to "disrupt the disruptors" (in response to competing entities like Airbnb), where fashion icons have discussed their debut into the world of hotels, and where other industry developments continue to emerge first.
Beyond being tastemakers in this industry, the Kiradjian duo are creating a movement and empowering women along the way. Frances founded Travel Industry Executive Women's Network in 2008, a global network that now numbering over 10,000 executive women who are making contributions within the travel industry. Each year they hold an executive women's conference that celebrates the industry's most prominent leaders, with shared successes and challenges to help motivate those in the same and other hospitality-related fields.