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Reeling from coronavirus, Central Florida hotels offer some 'pretty great deals'

By Trevor Fraser, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Fashion Daily News

ORLANDO, Fla. - Facing one of the most challenging tourism markets in modern history, hotels are turning to a classic marketing tool to reclaim customers: the deal.

"They're trying hard to keep people employed and not shut down again, so they're offering some pretty great deals and specials to get people in," said Keri Burns, Central Florida regional director for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Lockdown-weary travelers eager for a change of scenery can find rooms discounted as much as 50% at some properties.

As a sample of some current bargains, guests can get a third night 50% off when they book for two nights at The Alfond Inn in Winter Park. The JW Marriott/Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando is offering 15% off and a $25 daily resort credit with one of their packages. And area Hilton hotels are taking 20% off.

The discounts are part of an effort to save area hotels from flagging occupancy rates, which have averaged in the low-30% range or less for months, according to market research company STR. The numbers show that profitability per room nationwide was less than $7 in August, a drop of 91% from last year.

A new survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association found that two out of three hotels nationwide expect to be out of business within six months if occupancy rates don't improve.

 

Mark Waltrip, chief operating officer for Westgate Resorts, said he believes deals aren't the best way to go.

"Most people make the mistake of trying to discount their way (to occupancy)," he said.

Westgate is running promotions such as a drive for families to take "schoolcations," hotel stays during the week using the property's Wi-Fi for children who are learning online.

The program also comes with a $25 daily resort credit when booked for two days or more and includes access to a variety of "after school" activities. At Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa in Orlando, discount rates range from $96.34 for a studio villa to $512.51 for a four-bedroom.

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