Marketing extras, from breakfast to free parking, as well as easy access to public transportation, help drive occupancy at hotels outside of major city centers.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hotels located in the heart of a big city have convenience on their side in attracting guests.
Just outside of those major city centers, in smaller cities or suburbs, hotels have to work a little harder to appeal to guests who want to be close to everything the big city has to offer.
That’s where clever revenue management focused on price incentives, enhanced amenities and services, and innovative selling can make a big difference, sources said.
“Most hotels will generally compete on price and amenities for guests when competing with a more popular urban location,” said David Sangree, president of Hotel & Leisure Advisors. “By offering more amenities, suburban hotels can set themselves apart and attract the more cost- conscious travelers by appealing to the extra costs often associated with staying in a larger urban location.”
Expenses such as parking and “urban resort fees” can add significantly to the overall cost of a downtown hotel stay, which presents an opportunity for the smaller hotels on the fringes to offer a more attractive value, Sangree said.
Additionally, suburban hotels can point out to guests that transportation options are available from their hotel into the city center. In some suburban markets, an Uber ride can be cheaper than parking downtown.
Promoting amenities the urban hotels don’t offer, such as complimentary breakfast, evening reception and an indoor pool, can also help make the sale, Sangree said. Attractive packages might also combine food and beverage and transportation, or feature local attractions at a discounted rate.
Hotels located outside of big cities must create value for guests, by saving them time and making their stay seamless, said Kathryn Barrett, VP of revenue management at Dream Hotel Group. Hotel shuttles, complimentary parking and pools, for example, are just a few amenities and services that can be difficult to find in a city hotel, she said.
Barrett said Dream Hotel Group has been driving local “staycations” at one of its properties, The Time Nyack, a boutique property located about an hour from New York City.
During the summer months, the hotel has drawn a local crowd with its pool. In the off-season, the hotel has seasonal packages that promote the Hudson Valley region, with activities like apple picking and winery tours.
For the business traveler, the hotel promotes discounts for smaller corporate accounts that might not have enough business to drive volume. The hotel also has offered to waive its property facility fee as an incentive to book.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Kansas City – Overland Park, located about 25 minutes outside of downtown Kansas City, has stood out from the city center competition through unique packaging.
That includes its American Girl Package, which features a breakfast buffet, American Girl doll travel bed, robe and slippers, said Sherry Novick, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.
“We focus on the attractions, restaurants, shopping and events that we have in our area. Our property is the only hotel in the area that offers an American Girl package, so we promote the value-added features of the package and our distance to the American Girl Store,” she said.
“We also talk about the low crime rates in our area and the walking and jogging trails that connect to our property,” she added.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Crystal City National Airport focuses its sales and marketing efforts on its proximity of seven minutes by car to downtown Washington, D.C., with access to parking, as well as public transportation in Arlington, Virginia, said Megan Wrobel, the hotel’s marketing coordinator.
The hotel also promotes that it is less than two miles from Reagan National Airport and provides complimentary scheduled shuttle service to and from the airport.
“Both pricing and ease of travel are two significant advantages to staying in Arlington,” she said. “Guests avoid the stress of finding a parking spot in the city by staying with us, enjoy more affordable prices than downtown, and can still easily access the city in just minutes.”
The property’s marketing strategy also features flash sales, with rates starting at $89.
“Marketing works with (the) revenue (department) to identify the property’s need periods to target in the email copy, and revenue uploads the rates to these specific date ranges,” Wrobel said.
Pricing remains key when marketing to travelers who may normally stay downtown.
“When trying to attract a guest to stay outside of the city center, it is important to have your pricing competitive within the marketplace and attractive to city guests,” said Jennifer Schneider, VP of revenue optimization for the Americas at Radisson Hotel Group. “We use a revenue management system that optimizes our strategy by reviewing and potentially updating room prices up to four times a day to maximum revenue.”