Hotels that get a lot of business in the fall are planning activities and partnering with local businesses to create memorable hotel stays for guests.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Independent hoteliers in areas that get a lot of fall business are preparing for the seasonal shift with activities and food-and-beverage offerings centered on fall.
The Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, Vermont, sees demand spike during the fall season, President and GM Gary Thulander said.
“We have three different markets that we cater to (in the fall),” he said. “One is the leisure guest who comes up for, whether it’s a week’s stay or four days or even a night, and then we have corporate groups that do travel to our location during the holiday season, and then we have destination weddings that come here.”
The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., is expecting to see a lot of business travelers coming to the hotel this September after Labor Day when Congress is back in session, according to John Montano, GM at the Mayflower Hotel. The hotel is in Marriott International’s Autograph Collection.
“We’re coming off a very busy summer where we saw a lot of families, a lot of leisure travelers, a lot of international travelers. … And we’ll begin to see more of the corporate business travelers, the government travelers, and then a lot of citywides will start to ramp up in D.C.,” he said. “… So a shift from a lot of leisure travel in the summer to a much busier fall, and then with the election coming up, we’ll see some business with that as well.”
Montano said the hotel will still see some leisure travelers coming into the hotel on weekends, and local events that draw in fall business include the 24 September opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, multiple October festivals and Taste of DC.
Seasonal activities, F&B offerings
Hotels expecting a lot of fall business work with local businesses and plan special activities for guests to bring in the fall season, sources said.
Thulander said the Woodstock has a wide-variety of activities set up for guests in the fall.
“One is our (Kelly Way Gardens), which is about three-and-a-half acres of land, and we actually have our master gardener who watches over and takes care of all the vegetables, herbs and flowers that are grown for the hotel,” he said.
The gardener works with restaurants at the property to add items harvested from the garden to the menu in the summer, and menu options can change from week to week based on what is harvested, Thulander said.
“Guests are really experiencing farm-to-the-table in real time,” he said.
Hotel Vermont in Burlington, Vermont, has a number of partnerships with local businesses to provide guests with fun activities in the fall, according to Hans van Wees, GM at Hotel Vermont.
“We work with a local farm for pumpkin picking, where there’s also kids’ activities like corn mazes and wagon rides,” he said. “We may combine it with a beer tasting here for the parents at the hotel later in the day.”
He said the hotel also offers driving itineraries to hotel guests to direct them to more secluded areas to view the fall foliage. Guests can view the leaves on restored 1970s bikes provided by the hotel for free, but guests also have the option to pick a higher-end bike made by a local business for a small fee.
Staffing to meet guests’ expectations
Sources said they don’t necessarily increase staffing in the fall, but they make sure they have enough people on board to meet guests’ expectations.
“Rates are normally higher during the foliage, so expectations are higher. … We want to make sure we have the staff,” Thulander said. “We have the staff come in during the summer, and staff that come in for the fall and wintertime, so we staff for both seasons.
“Again, people have expectations, so we want to make sure we exceed those expectations with our staff with how friendly they are, how they’re trained and how they provide our services.”
Van Wees said the number of staff members doesn’t change much from one season to the next.
“The summer is a very busy period for us, too, so extending that through September and then mid-, late October,” he said. “We carry the same amount of staff, essentially.”