Mr. Donaldson

Hotel Market Reports

American Consumers in a Global Market Place: What Are Foreign Hotels Doing?

By Edward Donaldson, VP Marketing, Small Luxury Hotels of the World

As the power of the Dollar has continued to lessen over the last year or two, savvy travelers have sought out new and interesting destinations. Mexico and the Caribbean have both seen direct impacts from this change with attractive airfares, more frequent lift and room inventories that continue to grow. Shoulder periods have become smaller and smaller and interesting packaging taking advantage of the local resources and assets has proven to be most successful.

Markets in Central and South America have seen burgeoning levels of travelers to their destinations. Asia, although horribly affected by the Tsunami crisis, enjoyed upward growth in the last year with new visitors broadening their horizons and taking advantage of widening international borders with visits to Vietnam, China and the South Seas. These destinations are perceived as offering a very advantageous value for the money. With the currency situation precarious and travelers looking further a field for value, what do the traditional destinations in the United Kingdom and Europe do to protect and attract their business? What do the little guys do to stay competitive?

The segment of the hotel industry that remains the most vulnerable is the independent small luxury property. These hoteliers are faced daily with the challenge of maintaining standards, offering value and competing with operations that often have more flexibility. The fortunate advantage that these hoteliers have is normally operating with fewer rooms to fill each night. In the last 15 years, hoteliers, especially in the independent sector, have faced these difficult challenges.

By utilizing the marketing prowess of organizations such as Small Luxury Hotels of the World as well as the multiple distribution channels offered, the independent hotelier has an advantage over much of its competition. Getting the message out to the consumer about the opportunities is the key to ensuring success. In the past, hoteliers have offered incentives such as dollar for pound rates. These were traditionally done through the larger chain operations such as Hilton, Starwood & Radisson.

As the year began in 2004 and the socio-political climate in the UK & Europe needed to be addressed, the independent hoteliers employed the same strategies with a twist in an effort to ensure that they were able not only to ensure their regular guests were protected but were also attracting new potential guests. Being independent hoteliers, they were also able to ensure that these offerings were not perceived as "bargains" but true values.

Such hotels as The Stafford and Athenaeum in London, Hotel Vernet in Paris and Hotel Art in Rome all designed specific offerings for the discerning US traveler whilst maintaining the standards of service and luxury that have made them synonymous with the best of the best. The Stafford in London decided to offer a guaranteed exchange rate of 1.75 despite that day's trading insuring guests a specific rate while The Athenaeum has made the dollar equal to the pound. Hotel Vernet in Paris simply offered a rate with which the dollar was equal to the Euro allowing American guests to enjoy Superior rooms for $280 instead of 280 Euros.

With the success of these packages in the first quarter of 2004 both in terms of exposure and occupancies, many hoteliers throughout these regions saw great opportunities to expand the concept. Additionally, hotels in other regions of Continental Europe, as well as the British Isles, that had never before aggressively marketed to the American traveler, found a new outlet to expand their business by following suit. As an example, hotels along the C^ote d'Azur in France such as La Tartane, St Tropez and Hotel Juana, Juan les Pins as well as Villa Real in Madrid have taken this opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition and reach out to the dollar-conscious American traveler. Although many of these guaranteed rates offer a savings of near 25%, it is not seen as a discount by the consumer but yet a nice gesture on behalf of the property recognizing the importance of the American traveler.

After nearly a year of these programs, we find these trends continuing to grow and as a result, new markets blossoming. To the independent hotelier, these benefits are immeasurable. The key to the American consumer seems to rest in the ability to offer value while not sacrificing services and ensuring each guest experience is not a one of a kind event, but something they will wish to continue to partake in again and again.

Ed started his career with Servico, Inc as Director of Sales for several franchised Hilton properties. After a move to New York he became Director of Sales for The Royalton. Ed also served in regional positions with Pegasus Solutions. He has headed up the sales efforts for Summit Hotels, Sterling Hotels, Golden Tulip Worldwide and Rosewood Hotels. Ed has served as Regional Director, UK for TravelCLICK and VP of Sales for hubX, recently purchased by Pegasus. Ed currently is VP, Marketing, The Americas for Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Mr. Donaldson can be contacted at 212-953-2064 or ed.donaldson@slh.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

AUGUST: Food & Beverage: Multiplicity and Diversity are Key

Larry Steinberg

The foodservice industry is one of the oldest and most important. Consumers from all demographics rely on it virtually every day for sustenance. In fact, in the U.S. alone, itís a nearly $800 billion industry thatís extremely competitive, with hundreds of new establishments popping up every year, and much of this new business is the result of increased consumer demand. Consumers want more options. For every practiced chef, there is a collective of guests eager to spend their hard-earned dollars on something exotic and different. They want to experience a bit of culture by way of their next meal, and they want to find it using the latest technology. READ MORE

Frank Sanchez

About two years ago, I started my career at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. I came from San Diego, California, the apparent capital of farmerís markets. When I moved to Chicago in late-October, the number of farmerís markets had already begun to taper off and all that was left of the hotelís rooftop garden was the sad remnants of a summer full of bounty. However, I was in for a pleasant surprise. The Chicago Marriott Downtown operates a year-round experience to create food from scratch that gives customers fresh and nutritional options. I was thrilled to join a team that can tell a customer that the very greens on their plate were grown just floors above them. READ MORE

Thomas  McKeown

To serve todayís eclectic, socially engaged and sophisticated guests, hotels and chefs need to get creative, change their thinking and push back some walls Ė sometimes literally. The fun thing about meetings hotels is that they are a different place just about every week. One week weíre hosting a bridge tournament, the next a corporate sales team, or a dentistsí conference, or sci-fi fans in costumes, or cheerleaders jumping for joy. You name the group, and our hotel has probably welcomed them. READ MORE

Elizabeth  Blau

Over the past several years, many of us have watched with excitement and interest as the fast-casual restaurant segment has continued to boom. More and more, talented chefs with fine dining pedigrees are bringing their skills, creativity, and experience to concepts built around speed, approachability, and volume. Right now, the ability to offer a gourmet experience at all price points is as compelling to restaurateurs and diners alike. READ MORE

Coming Up In The September Online Hotel Business Review




{300x250.media}
Feature Focus
Hotel Group Meetings: Blue Skies Ahead
After a decade of sacrifice and struggle, it seems that hotels and meeting planners have every reason to be optimistic about the group meeting business going forward. By every industry benchmark and measure, 2017 is shaping up to be a record year, which means more meetings in more locations for more attendees. And though no one in the industry is complaining about this rosy outlook, the strong demand is increasing competition among meeting planners across the board Ė for the most desirable locations, for the best hotels, for the most creative experiences, for the most talented chefs, and for the best technology available. Because of this robust demand, hotels are in the driverís seat and they are flexing their collective muscles. Even though over 100,000 new rooms were added last year, hotel rates are expected to rise by a minimum of 4.0%, and they are also charging fees on amenities that were often gratis in the past. In addition, hotels are offering shorter lead times on booking commitments, forcing planners to sign contracts earlier than in past years. Planners are having to work more quickly and to commit farther in advance to secure key properties. Planners are also having to meet increased attendee expectations. They no longer are content with a trade show and a few dinners; they want an experience. Planners need to find ways to create a meaningful experience to ensure that attendees walk away with an impactful memory. This kind of experiential learning can generate a deeper emotional connection, which can ultimately result in increased brand recognition, client retention, and incremental sales. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group business and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.