From The LH Blog

Here's a sampling of recent entries from Lodging Hospitality's blog, The Front Desk. Check it out at www.LHonline.com/blog

Steal the business

February 16, Ed Watkins

It's the oldest marketing trick in the book: steal business. The Jumeirah Essex House in New York City is doing just that with a unique new promotion. The deal, which runs through March, offers guests a $100 American Express Gift Cheque if they stay two nights at the hotel. The catch: guests must prove they belong to another hotel company's frequent traveler program and fill out an application for Jumeirah's own club. It's simple, elegant and very cunning.

Of course, the deal isn't quite as good as it sounds. According to the hotel's website, rack rate for standard king rooms are $529 for a weeknight stay next week.

Las Vegas: a dry well?

February 13, Ed Watkins

New hotel development in Las Vegas follows a familiar cycle. A raft of new casino-hotel projects are announced, followed by civic euphoria, followed then by a trickle of skeptics who believe the city won't be able to absorb the new supply. So far, history has proven the naysayers to be wrong. Every new wave of hotel development has brought even more visitors and more profits to the city's vital economic engine. It's the only pure example of supply-side economics that works reliably.

I, too, think Las Vegas may be heading for difficulties in the next decade or so but for different reasons. The problem I foresee is in the infrastructure. Water, for one, is a very limited resource in the Southwest, and I'm not sure Las Vegas will get the added quantities it needs for prolonged growth. There are other concerns — power, housing, traffic, workers — that may be part of the process that finally puts a halt to the long, glorious growth run for America's most unique and vibrant resort city. Then again, I could be wrong.

Spending spree

February 9, Patricia Sheehan

The latest forecast from PricewaterhouseCoopers confirms what you might have already observed from your own operations: another record year for capital spending in the U.S. lodging industry. According to the firm, the hotel industry is expected to invest $5.0 billion in '06. This follows last year's record $4.8-billion investment, which was a staggering 50 percent higher than ‘04 levels.

PwC suggests the increase reflects continued spending on such items as branded furniture, including improved beds and bedding; technology of all types (in-room entertainment such as flat screen TVs account for a large chunk of change); and design enhancements meant to appeal to Gen X-ers and Millenials. This includes gathering settings and places; branded equipment and amenities; and informal, branded, multicultural comfort food, grazing meal options and extended hours for food and beverage operations.

The upshot is American travelers are becoming very much accustomed to fresh, updated accommodations and amenities at all levels of lodging. How does your property rate? Everyone complains about amenity creep (gallop is more like it), but the alternative to keeping up with the Joneses (or Sternlichts) is becoming dated and stagnant.

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