Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hotels versus Bed and Breakfasts: The upcoming fall season in New York

As many of you may know 'fall' is a very busy time of year for the accommodation industry. In New York City we receive twice as many visitors as we do in the winter or summer, when the weather is typically too harsh to attract large numbers. In light of the economic times we thought it might be interesting to update you as to our current situation as one of the leaders within the bed and breakfast industry.

So far we have noticed a slight increase in demand this fall over last fall but we are still experiencing a schizoid-like inconsistency in as much as there are days when we get slammed and days when we get nothing. I have talked to others and this pattern seems to be consistent through the industry including those who work in real estate. We do not know what causes these market fluctuations but like the current stock market we have our up days and our down days. Fortunately, however, where the stock market remains depresssed and rather stagnant we have enough good days to overcome the bad and have much to be thankful for.

It should be noted that our environment lies in stark relief to the myriad hotel options within the city.  Hotels of course provide a different level of service and have to cover themselves, due to their larger size, for higher overhead. In spite of what hotels or hotel lobbyists may believe we are not in competition with them, rather we provide an entirely different kind of service, specifically one that is much smaller in scale and offers a reduced level of service. Our emphasis is on quality and affordability at the expense of not having many of the services we associate with hotels, a 24 hour desk, a concierge, maid service, public areas, elevators, and so on.

In the end we only wish we could compete with them but we are simply too small and too handcuffed by our limited budget to even consider it. This is why the likes of even the basic to moderate hotels here, such as the Comfort Inn, can charge $450 per night for a basic room during high season, a full $100 below our rates, that is in spite of our larger sized rooms. They have greater reach and more recognition. Many do not even know that bed and breakfasts exist in New York City and that is because we are so few in number and far less visible. Ultimately there should be room for all of us. The irony is that we are charging much less per night for our rooms than a similar hotel room not because we want but because we have to. Our prices are a direct manifestation of our scale. From a marketing perspective, we simply cannot reach the large numbers of business travelers and tourists alike that a big name hotel can, and therefore we should not be seen as competition but rather as an inherent choice, one that befits a city as rich and diverse as New York.                   

Your Innkeeper,

Fergus O'Brien

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