The weak economy hit the travel industry hard, especially hotels. But there’s nothing like hard times to shake things up. When the going got tough, hotels got creative, which resulted in a flourish of creative strategies. Many hotels have invested in special, even quirky, installations, events and promotions to attract travelers and pull in local business.
Speaking to the New York Times, “Standing apart on an attraction other than price is important,” said Leonard M. Lodish, vice dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “If competitors continually undercut each other’s prices, it’s a race to the bottom,” he said.
Take the Roger Smith Hotel in New York for example, a well known as the “it” spot for social media and internet entrepreneurs, who use the place for social media workshops and parties. Roger Smith Arts, the hotel’s own production company, is a multi-disciplinary arts production company that not only provides cultural entertainment for guests, but has also become a way to promote itself as a pre-eminent and sought after cultural institution to the city of New York.
The historic Heathman Hotel – an independent luxury arts hotel in Oregon – has long collaborated with Powell’s Books, the nation’s largest independent new and used bookstore, to create a rich literary guest experience. They have amassed one of, if not THE largest hotel lending libraries in the country. Playing upon this strength, they’ve created a distinctive experience for guests by hosting an array of notable authors – including Tom Wolfe, Wallace Stenger, John Updike and Alice Walker – and accept their signed works for their ever-growing library.
About a year ago, the Liberty Hotel in Boston started offering special events every night, including cooking demonstrations by its executive chef, art exhibitions featuring local artists, and fashion shows where models strutted though the lobby and up the escalators. It’s a way for the local community to sample the hotel, as well as entertaining hotel guests. To the hotel’s way of thinking, locals who come for an event may stay for dinner or become familiar with the hotel and then recommend it to out-of-town friends or colleagues. Some hotel offerings are more active. Guests at Denver’s Hotel Teatro in can have an escorted run on the nearby Cherry Creek Trail.