Thursday, January 5, 2012

January blues means 'white sale' for Manhattan accommodations

It is no secret for New York City that January is the best month to snatch up bargains, a time when accommodation businesses, particularly the smaller boutique style ones such as ours at Country Inn the City, have to fight that much harder to attract travelers. Price is the single most important factor in determining whether or not nights are filled, and quality is secondary. January presents two problems that contribute to this phenomenon and that is the weather (typically cold) and post holiday blues, a time (particularly during a tough economy such as this one) when most are recovering from the holidays both in terms of time spent away from work and money spent.

For a high quality boutique like accommodation such as ours we have a choice; either to sell less nights at the regular rate or more nights at the lower rate, or to try to meet the two somewhere in the middle. And so you have pride on the one hand (no one likes to undersell themselves) or economics on the other. Reality bites hardest at this time of year and it's best to give in when you have to rather than suffer the consequences of missed nights.

But there is a way out and it is not always about spending. We run email campaigns in the fall (using the free service in 'mail chimp') and we educate our guests as to the advantages of visiting NYC in Jan/Feb, chiefly among them lower pricing and no lines/crowding. Education often includes informing guests who might not have been able to afford us in the fall (peak) that January and Feb are the best months to visit for those on a small budget. Those in the Southern Hemisphere can also be a strong target for business, particular during a hot summer as we had in the case of Australia in 2010 when we got swamped with Aussies who were looking for an escape. 

However, there is only so much we can do to attract travelers in large numbers and our biggest frustration is that the city itself doesn't do enough to promote the fact that the winter is a great time to visit NYC. After living here for 25 years I cannot imagine life without all four seasons and each very much has its virtues. Winter brings with it the shorter days, warm coats, see your breath weather along with cleaner-seeming air, and landscape changing snows, and not forgetting the unmistakable scent of roasting chestnuts, honey-roasted peanuts, and pretzels. But most of all it reveals the strength and character of New York; those who are not deterred from braving her streets, no matter how harsh the conditions, and it is not always harsh. There are of course days when the weather takes breaks and the coats come off. New York City is nothing without her streets so come brave the party and enjoy fantastic rates everywhere, including right here with us!

Wth very best wishes for the season,

Fergus O'Brien
The Innkeeper

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