Newspaper article International New York Times

Hotel Chains Tailor Offerings to Campuses

Newspaper article International New York Times

Hotel Chains Tailor Offerings to Campuses

Article excerpt

Large chains are increasingly joining established independent hotels by tailoring their decorations and amenities to the college calendar.

College pennant over your bed? Recent graduate available to answer questions? Rooms decorated in the school colors? Hotels near college campuses are gearing up to attract graduation weekend crowds, just as they compete throughout the year to attract visiting high-school families, graduates attending reunions and parents dropping off freshmen.

Large chains are increasingly joining established independent hotels by tailoring their decorations and amenities to the college calendar.

"The hospitality industry is focused on the customer experience right now," said Michael Giebelhausen, assistant professor of marketing at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. "Hotel managers are integrating local elements and upping their games on unique offerings." This includes syncing those offerings with the rhythms of the local college.

Universities are a stable source of business with a predictable seasonality, Mr. Giebelhausen said. "They can help protect hotels from the ups and downs of the economy."

Hotels are varying their efforts to pursue college-related business. The Holiday Inn Elmira, near Elmira College in upstate New York, gets into the spirit by offering purple drinking water, among other things. And for the last two years, guests arriving for the Western State Colorado University graduation and staying at the nearby Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites have arrived to lobby decorations, gift bags in their rooms and a letter from the president of the university thanking families for their support.

A family's first visit to the college can be important to a hotel. "If you can create a memorable experience for the family in the beginning of their freshman year, then you can ideally earn a loyal guest for the four years or six years the student is in college," said Bryan Barbieri, director of public relations for the Revere Hotel Boston Common, which is near Suffolk University, Emerson College, New England School of Law and Tufts University. …

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