Cup half full or empty?

The Los Angeles Times’ has a story on why Travelers should look at the bright side of 2007. The Times’ travel writer Catherine Hamm notes that “it’s tempting to look at the year in travel and note how we, as travelers, took it on the chin. Fuel prices increased, hotel rates crept upward, quality of airline service tumbled downward, traveler patience slipped noticeably and we used even less of our paid vacation time than ever”.

She then goes on to ask a series of rhetorical questions including one pertaining to hotels – “Did you pay more for a hotel? Yes. But did you end up sleeping in your car? No”. She rightly notes that “Hotels love us more than ever. Hotels seem to be the counterbalance to the airline experience. They want to be our friends. Some are trying to speed our way into our room by putting check-in kiosks in the lobby. Others are trying to give us all the high-tech toys we could ever want (though a pox on those luxury hotels that charge for wireless Internet access). Still others make sure we get a breakfast to help us start the day. We may be paying a pretty penny, but it’s money well spent”.

And along the same vein, the Wall Street Journal’s blog has an article headlined “Hotels Deck the Halls for Holiday Travelers”. The article notes how “This holiday season, vacationers had better be in the spirit because wherever they go, they are going to be running into a lot of tinsel and gingerbread. From Chicago to the Caribbean, hotels are ramping up their seasonal decorations and specials this year in a big attempt to lure the increasing number of travelers who want to go anywhere but home for the holidays”. Furthermore, hotels worldwide are acutely aware that families constitute a big proportion of travelers during the holiday season and are taking note that “many families don’t want the kids to miss out on Santa and snowmen even if they are headed to the beach. (Who cares if Santa is wearing swimming trunks?)”. The biggest deals are in the biggest cities like Chicago and New York where business travel after the first two weeks in December tends to peter off, thus enabling affordable rates for families who seek to spend Christmas and holiday travel away from home.

Beyond that, those hotels nationwide that have invested vast sums in upgrading their FF&E, adding amenities such as i-pod docking stations and providing higher quality fittings and even service with a view to developing their client base will undoubtedly be the winners and standout in the leaner times that surely lie ahead.

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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.

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