Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
CAN A NEW TIMES SQUARE HOTEL FIND ITS
MARKET?Westin Is Bullish on N.Y.C.
The 863-room Westin Times Square the largest
all-new hotel to be built in Manhattan in 17 years opened last
month amid some speculation. The upscale Starwood-managed property
(with 32 meeting rooms) debuts in a tough market widely predicted
to stay that way. M&C
talked to general manager, John
Sweeney to find what it’s like to be the new kid on a markedly less
M&C: Some local analysts charge
Starwood with delaying the recovery of the local hotel industry by
growing the supply beyond the current demand. What is your
Sweeney: The hotel has been under development
for seven years. It’s not something we can just stop. We believe
the Times Square market is still a strong one, with occupancy in
the mid-80s, year-to-date. Will we dilute that somewhat? Probably,
but I still think there’s room.
M&C: What have you done in the way
of marketing and promotional initiatives?
Sweeney: We ran focus groups across the country
for meetings, corporate travel and leisure markets, and we asked
them how we can separate ourselves from the competition. We
reviewed marketing materials; we asked what they liked and didn’t
M&C: What are meeting planners
Sweeney: One thing they are asking is, “How
will the hotel treat attendees?” We have to listen to them, and we
have to react to them. As the transient market declines, we have to
be able to shift markets. We aren’t trying to be a huge convention
hotel. We have a more intimate feel. There are only 24 rooms per
floor. We want to do meetings, but we don’t want 2,000 people
showing up at the same time for a meeting.
M&C: In enticing planners, are you
being more flexible with room rates, catering, meeting space rental
and the like?
Sweeney: I think the whole industry is more
flexible. To the extent that that is the case, we will be
competitive. It’s a part of the times. We accept that, and we’re
ready to play. I don’t think we’re setting a standard in any one
direction, but we’re going to be competitive.
Back to NewslineM&C Home PageCurrent
| Events Calendar
| Incentive News
| Meetings Market
| CVB Links
| Reader Survey
| Hot Dates
| Contact M&C