To the Editor:
In regards to the proposed 101 room hotel in Hartwick, I’d like to thank Bob Holt, career hospitality professional, for his willingness to “tell it like it is” regarding the true state of the hospitality business here in the Cooperstown area. While we at the Landmark Hotel in Cooperstown always welcome new competition,
I’d like to introduce the following numbers into the public discussion, hoping it broadens perspective.
1) 36,865 – 101 additional rooms sounds innocuous enough, but the number that should be focused on is 36,865; (101 rooms x 365 days). That is the number of new “room nights” (a critical metric in the hospitality business) that will be introduced into a local visitation rate that is not growing: 36,865 room nights.
2) 18,423 – At an average stay of two nights, that’s the number of additional room-booking visitors needed to absorb the additional inventory. Where will they come from when they haven’t come already? Like most hotels, (mine included), this proposed hotel is not an attraction bringing additional people to the area.
3) Zero – That is the anecdotal increase in occupancy that a number of B&Bs/inns/hotels achieved in the area this year, without, yet, the impact of this new hotel. Some have told me personally they were down over 25 percent year over year. True, there may be any number of reasons for this, but the explosion of hotel rooms in the area (Oneonta included) is clearly having an impact.
4) Negative 7 percent – That is the rate growth (i.e. price increase, a key to paying employees a livable wage) the Landmark (which we think is a modestly successful business) has achieved over the past six years in the “off” season. That’s right; our 2018 winter rates are 7 percent below where they were six years ago. This is despite huge investments in our facility and marketing, and it’s because rate is always the product of demand and demand is always the quotient of room-night inventory divided by visitor count. Add inventory without additional visitors and rates go down. Rates go down, employees get laid off.
The sheer mass of room nights added to inventory with little to no visitor growth has collapsed the winter rates in this village to the point of decision for a number of us. That decision will dramatically affect employees, let alone the historical property upkeep B&Bs/inns contribute so much to here in the greater Cooperstown area.
5) $73 — That’s the current published winter rate in a few fine establishments here in the village. $73! You’ll pay 50 percent more to stay in Binghamton! (Not that there’s anything wrong with Binghamton!)
Let me be frank, in no way am I requesting that any government body shelter my business from competition. Nor am I requesting it protect businesses that do not invest in themselves and then find themselves obsolete. I am saying, though, that the B&B/inn community in this area adds significantly to the quaintness we all market as the idyllic small-town Cooperstown experience. When you jeopardize Bed & Breakfasts by introducing another 36,865 chain-hotel room nights with little to no new demand, you are threatening that Cooperstown experience.
Make no mistake about it, this new hotel in Hartwick will ABSOLUTELY market itself as a Cooperstown hotel, thereby leveraging the marketing strength of the Cooperstown quaintness brand, even as it helps (unwittingly, perhaps) to destroy it.
Without doubt, the proposed hotel can and perhaps has already cited its own marketing studies to the Hartwick town Planning Board. And many others will simply take on faith that no one would invest the kind of money needed to build a hotel without understanding the math. I simply offer that the math I presented above is no “study.”
Owner, Landmark Inn