Hot off the press is a new article by Marva Hinton of WDBO Local News in regard to “holiday tourism numbers being very ugly”. Here’s the article and you can click above to get to the original one on WDBO:
“It used to be that we would by this time be completely sold out for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and if we’re at a 60 percent occupancy for Christmas, we’re very lucky,” said Rosen. “It’s very ugly out there. This is not a recession in the hospitality industry in Florida. It’s a depression.”
Even deep discounts don’t seem to be enough to encourage folks to travel. Rosen attributes this to so many people losing their jobs.
“So all of these properties that cater to leisure travelers are suffering,” said Rosen. “You know Disney’s still offering buy four get three free, and when Disney does something like that you know that something is not right.”
Hotel owners in the area may get a boost depending on which teams are selected for the Capital One and Champs Sports Bowls. Out-of-state teams that travel well could generate big bookings for late December into January.
And Rosen says he believes things will turn around. He’s not sure when but since his properties operate debt free, he’s in a better position than most. Now he says he’s refurbishing a lot of his hotels and renovating rooms, so he’ll be ready when the industry rebounds.
Interesting isn’t it? But I still don’t get it.
Sure, visitor numbers are lower than they have been for some time because people are feeling the economic pinch but the fact is people are still going about their daily lives and are still spending money in selected areas. Have you tried to get into a decent restaurant lately? I have, both in Atlanta and in Orlando and I’ve had to wait.
The Malls still seem to be plenty busy and finding a parking space is still difficult. And, according to economic figures, assuming you believe the Government, then the nation is pulling out of recession. So this appears to be good news…but not, apparently, to Orlando hotel owners.
That leads to one question. Why?
The answer is pretty simple and I alluded to it in my post of 27th October when I talked about the hotel experience. Since I wrote that article, I have been and stayed at the Sheraton Hotel in Atlanta for a convention and frankly, it wasn’t that great an experience.
It started out the wrong way at check in when the pleasant enough girl behind the counter told me that I would be charged $20 a day to park my vehicle. As I coughed and spluttered, she added that the Radisson was one of the cheapest in town for parking and that elsewhere I could pay as high as $28 per day!
She wasn’t wrong…
If we then add in a tip for the valet all of a sudden parking your car is costing you $30 per day or more!
To make matters worse I was then told by colleagues that internet access was $15 a day and I personally witnessed the high food and bar prices the hotel wanted so I made other arrangements to eat and drink outside the hotel where prices were more reasonable.
An example of this was that a decent breakfast in a local diner was around $8 as opposed to the hotel wanting $15 to $20.
And then we come to the room rate. Fortunately the people who put the conference on had pre-booked a number of rooms at a more favorable rate of $159.00 than the web site price of $189.00 per night so I managed to save some money there.
However, when we total all this up and add in the local and state taxes, my bill for four nights excluding food and drink was around $900.00 or put another way $ 225.00 per night. And what exactly did I get for my money? A 300 to 400 sq ft room with a bathroom that was so small that I could literally stand in the middle and touch every wall without moving. Is this an “experience”? Of sorts, I suppose it is.
So, no, I won’t be returning to it… even though there is another convention being held at the same venue at the start of December that I’d like to attend.
I’ve no doubt Mr. Rosen is a very successful businessman and it’s interesting to note that at what should be a busy time of year for his business he is choosing to remodel his hotels. I’ve no wish to tell him how to run his business but instead of dealing with the fluff wouldn’t he be rather better advised to talk to his customers and find out what they really want?
Nice rooms would be a big improvement for most hotels (see Friend’s Don’t Let Friends …Stay in Hotels.com) but the bottom line is that today’s guest wants a great deal more from their stay than what is currently being delivered. Of course, price is important but there are many other considerations and frankly, guests are absolutely fed up not to mention utterly pissed off at being nickled and dimed by extortionate car parking, beverage and internet fees. Quite rightly they are looking at their options and deciding to stay in places that highly value their business and give them great value for their money. It’s time the hotels woke up and started delivering some of this … otherwise the vacation rental industry will continue to erode away at their market.