Lodging Opportunities Meeting Recap 

Thursday, June 09, 2011 1:58:20 PM

On May 25, we convened a group of 15 lodging properties and prospective business owners to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing B&B's, hotels, motels, campgrounds, and everything in between.

lodging meeting 5/25/11

Meeting attendees share ideas and take notes.

If you weren't able to attend, here are a few highlights and take-home points from the meeting:

  • Ridership on the Great Allegheny Passage is increasing. Businesses are seeing more users in general, but also those who are incorporating the Passage into their long-distance (cross-country, in some cases) trips. We expect to see even more riders once the final missing link is completed to Pittsburgh.
  • In some Trail Towns, there are so few rooms that the entire town can often be completely booked.
  • This shortage also provides opportunities:
    • For existing businesses to expand (The Progress Fund offers loans for Trail Town businesses)
    • For businesses in neighboring communities to network with each other and recommend each other when they are fully-booked or have special events happening in town
    • For entrepreneurs to open new lodging properties (all types are welcome - hostels, B&Bs, hotels)
  • Trip packages are encouraged - they create ease and convenience that customers are willing to pay for. Lodging properties and restaurants can work together to create an all-inclusive dinner and room package, or bundle tickets to a local attraction with the price of a room. Read an intro and a case study from an earlier blog series on packaging for more ideas.
  • Use the "Great Allegheny Passage" branding in your package names and list it prominently on your business homepage. Seven Springs reported a significant increase in bookings when they used the GAP name for a package.
  • Shuttling is still a need and a challenge. Permitting and insurance issues are hurdles for moving people. Usually, moving luggage is fine. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog article all about shuttling.
  • Other services that are still needed in some towns are: internet and cell phone service and more "upscale" evening meals.
  • Businesses are encouraged to join TripAdvisor, and to remind customers to leave their feedback on the travel planning site. Read more about getting customer reviews here.
  • Several ideas were offered on how lodging properties can be more bike friendly: offer secure (preferably indoor or covered) bike storage and parking, a hose and rags for clean-up, snacks that are made available for hungry bikers, laundry services (free or paid). For more ideas check out this past blog post.

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