THE EXPERIENTIAL VOICE

Doris & Dicky was founded by Roxane Gergaud and Richard Dana following their own painful travel experiences of trying to find a place to stay that was personal, charming, cool – and affordable. They launched dorisanddicky.com in November 2015 to help others find their type of hotel.

“We became so frustrated spending hours trying to a boutique hotel we wanted to stay in but could afford,” says Roxane. “Friends kept asking for our recommendations and we realised there was an opportunity. We started collating properties around the £100 per night mark – budget boutique hotels.”

Before they created the website, Richard worked in finance and strategy at Thomas Cook while Roxane’s background was marketing and communications at Saatchi & Saatchi and Phaidon. “A lot of people said embarking on a business journey with your partner is one of the worst ideas, but we believed, and now know, that our different offerings mean we can work closely together. “We expected the website to appeal to young professionals, but we actually have a broader audience. It’s not just people like us looking for small hotels that don’t cost the earth. There are strong secondary audiences of 55-plus, as well as families looking for kid friendly hotels. We listen to feedback and one of our proudest achievements so far is the number of repeat bookings we are seeing.

“We offer a selected collection of the world’s best budget boutique hotels, and been essential because for small properties with fewer rooms, you want to know that the room you select is the room you’ll stay in.

Essentially we’re trying to help people find those little places that are hard to discover. Small boutiques can lie on page 10 of search pages – we bring them into the limelight.

“We take commission on rooms booked through our website and do not charge any property to be listed. Guests don’t pay extra to book through us. We think people must feel comfortable booking through a website  they trust. We don’t offer flights or transport and are purely designed for the hotel. We’re jumping on how people book all elements of their trip separately. Our collection offers the independence these travellers want. “I believe experiences and authenticity is what the guest is now looking for. They want to stay in a place with personality – from a converted paper factory through to a hotel that’s been run by generations of the same family, travellers want an experience to tell their friends about on their return. The experiential trend is a growing one.

“The choice of hotel is essentially down to personal taste and pricing. The budget boutique sector is an emerging market, but it can mean different things to different people. Some are trading up for a treat or trading down, tightening their belt. We are starting to receive corporate bookings – people want to stay somewhere that offers a more personal experience.

“New properties are popping up all over the place, from small independents to chains opening their own sub-chains, but what’s causing this? Maybe the notion of luxury is evolving? Perhaps it has already changed?

“We believe we offer something different to other booking websites. We want to help the hotels we work with build their audience and so they benefit from our press, blogger and social media activity at no extra cost. We don’t mind if customers book directly with hotels having discovered them on our website. As long as we have enough bookings it works well all round. We want to work together. “For us it’s all about the experience. We want to bring back the idea of being hosted. That’s the beauty of staying in a small hotel – you feel in touch with where you are in the world. The warmth you receive from the people running the property is so strong that when you add in local recommendations, you have memories you won’t forget.”