School’s out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean that revenues have to take a college sabbatical.
As U.S. universities largely close up shop for the summer, hotels in these areas that feed off academic-related business and visitors are creating new packages to entice locals and those passing through on vacation. Guests, including business travelers, are encouraged to enjoy hotel restaurants and soak up the rays at pools and recreational facilities.
“We’ve found tremendous success in transitioning sales efforts in the summer to accommodate demand from medical centers, construction and development projects and regional business activity,” said Aghfar Arun, director of hospitality at Bradford Allen, a national commercial real estate firm. “Furthermore, university towns are cultural epicenters and incubators for creativity, featuring thriving communities for families and businesses independent of the student population.”
He added generally universities are highly accessible by major interstates and nearby airports, providing infrastructure for visitors any time of year. Many universities have active medical research facilities and teaching hospitals that serve local and regional patients regardless of the season.
Justin Schlageter, vice president at CBRE Valuation & Advisory Services, said “some of the hotels in these towns stay busy during the summer months with business from travelers along these highways, festivals and gatherings put on by various social groups and/or the city.”
Also, these hotels often lower rates to push occupancy, along with offering specials and packages to entice guests. Summer can also bring various visiting sports teams for on-campus tournaments, which generates an increase in group demand.
Robert Rauch, chief executive officer and founder of R.A. Rauch & Associates, said at his firm’s hotels in the San Diego area that are close to a university, other types of guests fill in the gap when school’s out.
“San Diego weather is a big attraction for vacationers, and we participate in programs with some of the local amusement parks where tickets are bundled with a hotel stay,” he said.
Youth sports tournaments and weddings help put heads in beds in the summer, Rauch noted.
“We do work closely with several youth sports housing agencies and offer competitive incentives to them, including complimentary nights, rewards points, commissions and rebates,” he said.
Other hotels in college towns turn on the creativity during the months of June, July and August.
As Texas A&M University students clear out of College Station for the summer, the Cavalry Court hotel has a formula for continuing to drive revenue.
“The summer months are a great opportunity for our property to engage with locals and serve as a gathering place for our community. Though we maintain a steady stream of visitors road tripping across Texas in the summer, we also see an uptick in local residents seeking a place to unwind and enjoy our amenities,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Lydia Godfrey.
To accommodate this influx, the hotel has a weekly “Sunday Funday” through June when guests can sit poolside and listen to live music and enjoy seasonal food-and-beverage offerings. The hotel also brings in business by kicking off its Summer Music Series in July, hosting local and touring musicians every Saturday for intimate performances in the hotel’s courtyard or restaurant.
Special activities also take place and packages are offered during the summer at Kimpton The Forum Hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Since opening on the grounds of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business last month, we’ve been ideating ways to drive business to our hotel and restaurants while students are away,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Darby Gyscek. “With several of our packages, including the College Tour and Amore with Us packages, we’re hoping to drive interest from leisure travelers, campus visitors and Charlottesville locals looking for a staycation to enjoy the city while the school is quiet.”
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