Pulse: Hotel industry
February 6, 2009By Katelyn Litalien
Local hotels are optimistic about a better year heading into 2009 as they see a steady amount of business, compared to last year.
“Reservations are coming slowly but surely,” said Ann Marie Hartman, general manager of the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort on Wrightsville Beach. She said business has been a bit off in the beginning of the year, but that was to be expected.
To counter this, the Holiday Inn Sunspree is working to be flexible, looking for areas to cut costs to keep prices comparable for visitors. “We watch all our costs, like anyone would,” Hartman said, explaining that their business plan is directly proportional to occupancy rates.
Eric Weinrich, general manager of the Wilmingtonian, has seen similar trends in reservations. “We’re expecting to be flat compared to last year,” he said.
Weinrich said that regular leisure travelers usually book rooms closer to their vacation dates and he hasn’t seen a decline in reservations up to this point. “Certainly we haven’t seen a pickup but we haven’t seen a drop off (either),” he said.
With the warm weather not far off, Weinrich expects business generated from weddings to help boost their numbers.
As for February, he is pleased with the amount of business he’s seeing for Valentine’s Day. “That is one of the weekends that people book in advance,” he said. The Wilmingtonian is not planning on offering any special packages because the hotel is doing great without them, Weinrich said.
But other external factors, including the decrease in gas prices, have hotel managers hopeful. “We are hoping for the best, especially with gas prices down this year. That can’t hurt us,” Hartman said. “You have to be prepared and that’s all you can really do.”