Discount hotel prices a bad idea, hotel boss warns

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A warning against hotels discounting prices comes from one of the world’s leading luxury-brand hoteliers. 

Englishman Robert Gaymer-Jones – Sofitel Worldwide’s chief executive officer – was in Queenstown this week to address an international conference of Les Clefs d’Or concierges. 

Told that local hotels often discount to attract guests, particularly in shoulder seasons, Gaymer-Jones says it’s not a good strategy. 

“Hopefully you don’t ever get to the situation where you’re discounting because as soon as you start discounting, it’s a spiral that you just continue to go down.” 

It sends a signal that “we’re desperate” and “gives a perception that, ‘What’s the true value of the hotel?’” 

Gaymer-Jones says Queenstown is a perfect location to chase group and meeting business in the shoulder seasons – “then you’re able to have a base piece of business and you’re able to maintain your rates”. 

Queenstown’s proposed convention centre “will really enhance the meeting and incentive business and will be very important for that shoulder season period”, he adds. 

Like many hoteliers, Gaymer-Jones doesn’t agree with bed taxes – an idea sometimes mooted as a way for Queenstown Inc. to raise funds from visitors. 

“Anywhere in the world where there’re resort taxes or special additional taxes, when you have your rate and then you go ‘plus, plus, plus, plus’, it has a tendency to scare people away.” 

He’s very happy at how Queenstown’s Sofitel is performing: “It’s a beautiful hotel, it’s elegant and it meets the brand’s requirements.” 

Gaymer-Jones also addressed Queenstown Resort College hospitality management students. 

“I said the first six months are usually difficult in the hotel business. 

“Suddenly you leave college, you’re asked to work at night, then you’re asked to work on Friday night and a Saturday night, then you’re asked to come in on the Sunday morning – it’s really a dramatic change to your normal life pattern. 

“If you get through the first six months and have a real passion for this business, you will stay in the business and you will develop your careers around the world.”