Hotel trends emerging in weak US economy
19 June, 2008：A new survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) reveals various industry trends but one emerging pattern is with higher gas prices and lower expectations for the economy, hotel guests are inclined to stay closer to home.
“Our radius is tightening. We used to draw most of our leisure guests within 180 miles and a three-hour drive but now we’re looking more like a two hour drive,” said Mike Wainwright, vice president of sales and marketing at the Orlando-based Gaylord Palms Resort and Conference Center.
The AH&LA 2008 Lodging Survey, one of the most comprehensive industry-wide surveys of its kind, revealed these other hotel trends:
----Wireless Internet access is represented in 91% of responding properties, up 35% from just four years earlier,
----The number of hotels that charge for in-room Internet use is on the decline. Sixteen percent of hotels charge for this service, down from 19% in 2006 and 22% in 2004,
----More than one third of respondents offer iPod docking stations in-room.
----Seventy-nine percent of responding properties had an exercise room and/or fitness facility, and 77% of these are complimentary for guests,
----The number of respondents who offer vegetarian menu options rose 16% to 48%.
----Twenty-four percent of respondents offer allergy-free hotel rooms.
Hotels are coming up with some creative programs to attract both leisure and meeting-goers. The Gaylord Palms, for example, which draws most of its business from Tampa and Orlando unveiled a program designed for groups as small as ten. It includes a sleeping room, a brainstorm space and a flexible menu of optional services.
“For instance, we can arrange for a late morning bus to pick up 10 members of cross-departmental team in Tampa, for a short trip to Orlando,” said Mr Wainwright.
“Strategy discussion can begin on the bus, and continue in a brainstorming suite at the hotel. Next, the group can take a break with an evening team-building dinner. The productivity and discussion continues the next morning, with the team can be back in Tampa in time for close of business.”
Gaylord, located near Walt Disney World, has also come up with new initiatives to lure leisure travelers. One example is its “Summer Treasure Hunt Challenge” where guests can compete for $10,000 in cash in a game reminiscent of reality TV.