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New York story - A decade of rising visitor numbers, lower room rates and new challenges

Launching independent budget hotels in New York

Vijay Dandapani is the President of Apple Core Hotels, Vice Chairperson of the Hotel Association of New York City and Board member of NYC & Company, NYSHTA (New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association) and the International Hotel Motel & Restaurant Show at Javits. On Tuesday 20 September, Mr Dandapani shared his experiences of launching independent budget hotels in New York, the state of the industry post 9/11 and the most recent economic turmoil. Here’s a few key statements from the event:

Latest statistics show that foreign visitor numbers have risen by four million since 2001, from 4.8 million to 8.8 million so far this year. For the city as a whole, this healthy number represents 22 per cent of all visitors to New York City. Interestingly, for the Apple Core Hotels brand, this percentage increases to 30 per cent of all guests – a figure the company is keen to cultivate.

Mr Dandapani advised that a major contributing factor to this high percentage is the discounted price of hotel room rates, on average dropping 20 to 25 per cent in the last decade – guaranteeing great deals across the board!

This negative correlation has meant that "all hoteliers have had to keep on their toes," it is for this reason that Apple Core Hotels have created a strong ‘good-value’ ethos which encompasses not only the quality of products and services offered but also the extensive complimentary facilities available to all guests. These include free wi-fi, continental breakfast, national phone calls as well as unlimited use of a fitness centre and business suite at each of its hotels.

In addition, as Vice Chairperson (soon to be Chairperson) of the New York Hotel Association, Mr Dandapani plays a pivotal role in shaping the industry’s future. He explained that the Association does this in many ways, for example by fighting pedantic regulations, ensuring high codes of practice and eradicating the increasing number of illegal hotels popping up around the city.

All in all, New York City’s hotel industry has grown from strength to strength in the last decade, not just in visitor numbers but also in the diverse products on offer, with trends showing a definite move to smaller, more boutique yet greater value hotels (due to rising overheads). The boroughs around Manhattan have also increased in popularity. Mr Dandapani concluded that in order to sustain this growth, the industry must continue to adapt to changing markets and their needs as well as economic and regulatory changes and the implications that follow.