Twice a month, Mona Stevens travels from Champaign to Chicago for business. Since 1999 she's been staying in the same hotel where the staff knows her by name, knows her preferences and tries to book her into her favorite room. Now that's how to gain brand loyalty.

"It's like going home, it's like family," said Stevens, a human resources vice president of a title company. Her hotel of choice is the Burnham, one of 40 Kimpton boutique properties.

"My room is set up the way that I like it," said Stevens in a telephone interview. "I have a favorite room and the staff moves heaven and Earth to get it for me when it's available. It's welcoming, comfortable. I'm going to have what I need when I need it. Instead of a box of chocolates waiting for me, there's a basket of fresh fruit, a bowl of pretzels and a bottle of water."

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