Travelers Warm to New Yorker Hotel Pricing

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A "Chill Out" temperature-linked promotion in conjunction with The Weather Channel and its weather.com sibling has yielded 362 reservations at last count for The New Yorker Hotel in a slow market.


The promotion, which began July 4 and runs through Labor Day, offers discounted rates based on the previous day's high temperature.


"We're helping them generate more interest in travel in a period of troubled economic times where people aren't necessarily thinking about it," said Tom Flournoy, vice president of product development at weather.com, Atlanta.


The promotion is a quirky attempt to generate traveler interest in New York, particularly the landmark New Yorker in the city's midtown district. Once owned by Hilton, the New Yorker is now part of the Unitarian Church, but managed separately.


Consumers who reserved read about the promotion in newspapers including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and Newsday. The only tactic used to push the promotion was public relations.


Availing the weather rates is simple. While checking in with the front desk, the guest mentions the weather deal. The hotel automatically charges a room rate equal to the previous day's high temperature for the duration of the guest's stay.


Obviously, it is hoped that guests check weather.com's New York weather page to confirm the temperature before checking in. August in New York is typically in the 80s and 90s with an occasional day approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit.


The hotel typically charges $109 to $139 this time of year. The discount under the weather promotion is for single or double occupancy, subject to room availability and not applicable to groups or prior discounted deals.


"Summers are generally pretty slow, and everybody's very competitive in New York City in the hotel business, and rates are down 30 percent from what they were a year ago," said Barry Mann, general manager of the New Yorker. "So, since they're down that far, getting down to the $99 and $90 rate, I say, 'What the hell, let's take a chance, because the temperature in August is usually 85 to 86 degrees. And the worst that can happen is we lose a few bucks more on these special rates."


The New Yorker has little to lose. It is not paying The Weather Channel or weather.com for partnering in the promotion. But the media company is relying on travelers to check its site or channel before making travel arrangements.


Flournoy expects the New Yorker to track whether guests checked the weather on its site before making the reservation. But it is a small price to pay for a company that is looking to strike similar deals and boost its awareness.


"We at the Weather Channel are connected with business and vacation travelers," Flournoy said. "Communicating with hotels is the next logical step."


Using temperature as a lure, however, was the New Yorker team's idea after brainstorming with its agencies, including PR shop LVM Group, New York.


The "Chill Out" effort also took inspiration from another out-of-the-box promotion last year by the New Yorker. Called No Bull, it required the hotel to take $10 off the guest's bill if the stock market dropped 100 points. It was $20 off if the market plummeted 101 to 200 points. If the market dropped 500 points or more, the hotel offered a room on a higher floor with an open window.


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