Time for some hotel name changes?

Coming soon: Four Seasons Resort and Spa Econo-Zone.

Hotels may not realize it yet, but the words “spa” and “resort” are fast becoming a kiss of death. Earlier this week I spoke to executives from two separate big pharma companies who told me that they were no longer allowed to book meetings at hotels with the words “resort” or “spa” in the name. It’s not in keeping with the image they want to project, especially in the new depression.

Ironically, it could actually be a frugal move to book business in high end hotels and resorts right at the moment. With so many cancellations, resorts are sitting on non-refundable deposits for meetings, but facing spare capacity. Many are ready to deal.

Speaking of hotel deals, I’ve been using Hotwire for hotel booking recently and have found some great bargains. (If you’re not familiar with the service, you can choose among different hotels based on their location and characteristics. Hotwire tells you the price but not the name. Once you book and pay they reveal the name of the hotel.) Earlier this week I stayed at the Hilton in downtown Washington, DC for $86, compared with a $250 AAA rate. That’s down from the $101 I paid there a few weeks ago.

What’s fun about using Hotwire is that I often end up at hotels that are nicer than I’d feel comfortable staying at, even with a corporate discount.

PS –Of course, hotels don’t typically provide frequent stay points when booking through sites like Hotwire. So I was pretty shocked a few minutes ago when I received an email from Hilton encouraging me to use their website for bookings but also granting me points for my Hotwire-booked stay:

HHonors points, airline miles and stay credit toward tier status are not awarded for stays booked through third party online sites. However, we have made an exception for your recent stay at the Hilton Washington. Going forward, though, we wanted to remind you that to ensure you receive HHonors points, miles and stay credit when you book online, be sure to make your reservations through www.hiltonfamily.com or any Hilton Family website.

December 4, 2008

3 thoughts on “Time for some hotel name changes?”

  1. It is true that spa hotels and resorts can be a marketing title to attract clients. I personally prefer “boutique” hotels, or “design” hotels. In some countries, boutique hotels can be much less expensive than regular chain hotels, and offer more services and more confort.

    When I was in Ecuador, I stayed in a boutique hotel which room cost $100 per night, compared to the Swiss Hotel which rooms were $250. The boutique hotel’s room was smaller, but boy did it smell better and the bathroom was greatly designed!

  2. If Big Pharma is worried about its image — and its bottom line — it could try eliminating quite a few of those meetings. As the old joke goes, mettings are the place where minutes are kept and hours are lost.

    Whatever meetings are necessary could be done over the Internet and/or by conference call. You’d think between advances in technology and the cost and inconvenience of travel that there would be a lot more of that.

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