Marketing & Sales

Exterior of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

The Convention Center Connection

The ongoing $1.5 billion expansion of New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is a reminder of just how connected meeting facilities are to the health of the city’s hotel industry, which provides accommodations for the thousands of attendees, sponsors and support staff, frequently for multiple-night stays.

The Javits project will add 1.2 million more square feet of exhibition space, bringing the venue total to 3.3 million square feet. The work includes construction of a 58,000-square-foot ballroom, which the center claims will be the largest on the East Coast.

The “convention-center connection” benefits hotels large and small, from the 500-plus-room “big box” full-service convention hotels to much smaller limited- and select-service hotels. The latter can benefit from convention business, too, if managed effectively.

Large citywide conferences and events are the lifeblood of convention centers. Accordingly, local convention and visitor bureaus typically work on behalf of their client hotels by assembling “room blocks” to house attendees. Hotels are invited to participate, and most wisely agree.

Considering that the lead time for a big conference can be two or three years, participating in the room block gives a hotel a base of business on the books for a fixed number of nights far in the future. In industry parlance, these bookings represent “found business”  or, more to the point, “money in the bank.”

While many who attend conferences will opt to stay at full-service convention hotels for the convenience of being able to order room service or dine inside the building, others will be happy to book a limited- or select-service hotel if only they’re traveling on a budget because such hotels are priced substantially lower than their full-service cousins.

Conferences present hotels with opportunities to attract additional bookings. Given the appeal of a destination like New York, Chicago, Miami or San Francisco, some attendees may wish to arrive a few nights early or stay a few nights afterward, possibly with their significant other. If offered an attractive “pre-con” and “post-con” rate, they’re likely in many cases to book a limited- or select-service hotel, since that part of their stay will be on their own dime.

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hand holding loyalty card

Taking Loyalty Programs to a New Level

Points-based loyalty programs have figured prominently in hotel marketing for decades, the most popular ones enlisting millions of members. In the belief that “20 percent of your customers give you 80 percent of your business,” hotel marketers eagerly pursued their best customers, encouraging them to sign up and then work to attain elite-level status.

The higher up the program hierarchy members rose, the greater the loyalty they felt and the greater the number of points and other sweeteners they received for their continued patronage. Both the member and the hotel brand benefitted as did the hotel owner and operator. It was a win-win all around.

I was reminded of how valuable these programs have become in February when Marriott International took the bold step of replacing its long-time Marriott Rewards program, one of the industry’s largest and most well-known programs, with a new entity called Marriott Bonvoy.

As with replacing an established hotel brand, replacing a popular loyalty program comes with a calculated risk, given the equity built into the original name over the course of many years. A seasoned marketer, Marriott certainly understands this and plans to invest heavily in promoting the new program, which consolidates Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest into a single effort.

Interesting too, in launching Bonvoy, Marriott has taken the opportunity to rethink the traditional points-based loyalty program and put a different spin on it, one the company seems to feel will better resonate with today’s travel consumer.

At the heart of this reinvention is something the company is calling Marriott Bonvoy Moments. These are tens of thousands of different kinds of experiences program members can have staying at Marriott hotels and resorts, depending on the destination and time of year. According to Marriott, there are roughly 120,000 such “moments” possible around the world.

In addition to being able to redeem points primarily for free nights — and to a lesser degree, merchandise — members will be able to use their points or purchase these trip enhancements that formerly would have been provided by travel agents, tour companies and/or destination management companies.

As time goes by, it will be interesting to see if other major hotel companies take similar steps with their loyalty programs and whether Marriott does, in fact, have its finger on the pulse of today’s traveling public.

Procrastinators Rejoice: Hotel Deals Save the (Valentine’s) Day

couple kissing in the street with heart-shaped balloons

With Valentine’s Day just a week away, procrastinating Romeos and Juliets still have time to book a Romantic Escape package at any of 10 Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels in the greater New York metropolitan area.

The package includes one night’s accommodations, a bottle of sparkling white wine, a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates, according to Janelle Schwartz, vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management for M&R Hotel Management, which operates the hotels.

Participating hotels include the Holiday Inn NYC – Lower East Side, Holiday Inn New York City – Times Square, Holiday Inn Staten Island, Holiday Inn New York JFK Airport Area, Holiday Inn L.I. City – Manhattan View, Holiday Inn Express Manhattan Midtown West, Holiday Inn Express Staten Island West, Holiday Inn Express New York JFK Airport Area, Holiday Inn Express LaGuardia Airport and Holiday Inn Express Roslyn – Manhasset Area.

All of the hotels provide deluxe bedding, premium bed and bath amenities, complimentary internet service, fitness centers, in-room Keurig coffee makers, 32-inch flat-screen TVs with premium channels, USA Today newspaper and 10 IHG Rewards Club points for every dollar spent on each stay.

The Holiday Inn Express hotels additionally provide a complimentary Express Start breakfast bar featuring scrambled eggs, pancakes, biscuits, bacon and sausage, yogurt, gourmet coffee, tea and the brand’s signature cinnamon rolls. The Holiday Inn hotels also feature grab-and-go stores that offer frequently requested amenities and snacks.

“Our Romantic Escape package is available throughout the year, providing a perfect way to celebrate engagements, birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions as well as Valentine’s Day,” Schwartz said.

The Romantic Escape package can be booked through the participating hotels’ websites or by calling the hotels. Reservations must be made at least two days in advance.

New York Hotels Offer Romance, Pizza and Parking Packages

For visitors to New York who are looking for a night on the town or a place to stay and park their cars before a flight or cruise, M&R Hotel Management today announced a number of value-added packages at its New York hotels, available through Sept. 30.

view of NYC skyline from Midtown New York

Designed for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions, the Romantic Escape Package features a bottle of sparkling wine, bouquet of flowers and box of chocolates with an overnight stay. Reservations must be made at least two days in advance. The popular Pizza Package includes one large pizza with two toppings and a two-liter bottle of soda.

The Romantic Escape and Pizza packages are available at the Holiday Inn New York – JFK Airport Area,Holiday Inn Express New York JFK Airport AreaHoliday Inn Express LaGuardia AirportHoliday Inn NYC – Lower East SideHoliday Inn Express New York – Manhattan Midtown WestHoliday Inn Staten Island and Holiday Inn Express Staten Island West.

“Our packages start with a room for the night at one of our modern, stylish hotels and add lots of extras,” said Janelle Schwartz, M&R Hotel Management vice president of sales, marketing & revenue management. “Each package maximizes our value proposition to the guest while offering a discount.”

plane flying over the front entrance of the Holiday Inn New York JFK Airport

Holiday Inn New York JFK Airport

The Park and Fly Package, which includes parking for one car for up to seven nights, is available at the Holiday Inn New York – JFK Airport AreaHoliday Inn Express New York JFK Airport AreaBest Western JFK Airport Hotel and Days Inn – Jamaica JFK Airport. Guests can park additional nights for $15 per night at the JFK airport hotels and $14 per night at the LaGuardia hotel. Parking begins on the day of arrival. Each hotel’s regularly scheduled airport shuttle service provides complimentary transportation to and from the terminal.

The Park and Cruise Package, available at the Holiday Inn Staten IslandHoliday Inn Express Staten Island West and Comfort Inn on Staten Island, includes transportation to and from the Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey, and parking for up to seven nights at the hotels. Guests can park additional nights for $10 per night.

guest room at the Comfort Inn Staten Island

Comfort Inn Staten Island

As sponsors of the Staten Island Yankees, the Holiday Inn Staten IslandHoliday Inn Express Staten Island West and Comfort Inn on Staten Island offer a Yankees Fans, Friends & Family rate of 15 percent off the room rate through the end of this season. The team is the Single A-short season affiliate of the New York Yankees and plays at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark in the St. George district of Staten Island.

The Romantic Escape, Pizza, Park and Fly and Park and Cruise Packages can be booked through each hotel’s website, which offer additional information including price, which will vary with the dates selected. To request the Yankees Fan, Friends & Family rate, guests should call the hotels directly.

In addition to its 12 hotels in New York, M&R Hotel Management operates the Holiday Inn Express Braintree in the Boston area and Alegria, an Ascend Collection Hotel, on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. Its newest hotel, the 271-room Holiday Inn New York – Times Square South, is scheduled to open later this year.

For information on any of the above mentioned packages or to book a reservation, guests should call the hotels directly via the phone numbers listed on their websites.

Hotels Can Help Couples Say ‘I Do’ to Wedding Planning

As anyone who has helped with a wedding can tell you, the ceremony is not the only event the wedding planners need to be concerned about. The related activities and after-parties take nearly as much care and effort to plan and coordinate.

Weddings can be a major part of a hotel’s business. That’s true for hotels with extensive function space that can accommodate elaborate events as well as for select-service hotels that house the wedding party, family and friends.

At M&R Hotel Management, we recognize the business opportunity that a wedding represents. Our roster of affordable, contemporary hotels — a mix of mostly full-service and select-service properties in the greater New York City area — can help newlyweds stretch their budgets.

Working with our sales managers, brides and grooms can book a room block at a negotiated nightly rate for guests arriving from out of town. In earlier generations, family and friends would find room to put up the out-of-towners on living room couchewhite roses with greenerys and spare mattresses. Today family and friends prefer the privacy of their own rooms.

Our full-service Holiday Inn hotels feature a la carte breakfast service in their restaurants. Some offer a private room where they can cater a breakfast for out-of-town guests or the wedding party. Couples on a tighter budget may choose our select-service Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Inn, Days Inn and Best Western hotels, each of which features a complimentary breakfast buffet.

Suites are available at select hotels, a perfect room for the bride and her bridesmaids to dress for the ceremony, which happens to be the big day’s first photo opportunity.

Select hotels in our portfolio feature complimentary shuttle van service. Depending on the number of rooms booked, the location of the wedding venue and the number of hours involved, shuttle service might be available to transport guests to and from the wedding venue. Alternately, sales managers are happy to work with the wedding couple to arrange local limousine service, if that makes the most sense.

Finally, the bride and groom may opt for the comfort of a local hotel rather than leave right away on a honeymoon. The top-floor suites at our Holiday Inn L.I. City – Manhattan View offer a wonderful destination for that first night, with magical sweeping views of New York’s skyline.