Layaway stays?

The retail industry may have some pointers for hoteliers by showing that running out of ideas in an adverse economic environment is not an option and, in fact, is a sure way of running out of money. Faced with consumer reluctance stemming from a lack of confidence as well as credit, some retailers like Sears have brought back a sales facilitator known as a "layaway" from a bygone era. Sears has tried to entice shoppers by offering to put away items that they pay 15-20% down on. When shoppers pays the entire amount for the item/s they get to take them home.

Layaways were common place till the late 80s when a plethora of easy credit rendered that sales approach irrelevant. But even before consumers were awash in easy money few, if any hotels, used that method to fill rooms. With the industry buffeted by a variety of economic headwinds perhaps it is time to bring back the old as new. Some vacation promoters such as already have a layaway vacation plan and call it a "sunny day" plan. Others include and And late last month USA Today ran a story on layaway vacations. As yet, none seem to have originated from the hospitality industry. A marketing opportunity for the asking?

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.