Any question we are in a recession?  Let me tell you a little story.

Last  weekend I was reading the Sunday paper and saw a local grocery store ad offering double coupons Sunday only.  A $1.00 coupon would receive $2.00 purchases. With a paper full of inserts I decided to see just how much I could save.

Now Williamsburg is a fairly affluent community.  Nevertheless, with scissors in hand I clipped coupons for only things I knew I would use.  Armed with an envelope full of coupons I headed for the double coupon grocery store.  Here’s what I discovered in the process:

  • When I got to the store I found the parking lot so full finding a spot was difficult
  • Next I discovered there were no shopping carts available and had to wait 5 minutes to secure one
  • The aisles were jammed with shoppers holding coupons and searching for products on sale
  • Many of the products for which I had coupons were already Sold Out!  Bisquick, Lipton Onion Soup and several others
  • In the end my bill was $176, however my double coupons saved me over $40.
  • I saved 25% on items I was going to buy anyway.  Half the savings paid by manufacturers and half by the store

So what does this mean to hotels today?

  • Even if you cater to an affluent clientele, they will most likely be looking to save money on their next vacation
  •  A good offer (not necessarily one designed to break the bank) is needed to motivate cautious consumers these days
  • Look for partners to help share the burden (the grocery store contributed 50% of my overall savings.  Manufacturers paid the other half).  Can water sports operators, local car rentals, etc. share the cost of value-added packages you can use to attract guests?

Now is the time for creative thinking and action.  A hotel doesn’t need to offer 50% off or 5 nights for the price of 3 to attract business these days.  In fact, going it alone and offering steep discounts to attract customers is a sure way to destroy RevPAR and the bottom line.  It will also diminish your brand name making it harder to increase rates following this recession.

What do you think?  Safe travels – Madigan Pratt

AUTHOR: Madigan Pratt
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