'Pay to Play' Marketing

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In this economic environment, just about every hotel is dong anything and everything possible to attract business. There are the usual promotions and offerings like stay two nights, get one free; complimentary spa treatments, golf or dining...you name it, and it's probably been tried. There are so many offers out there, from all around the country, it's rare when one stands out.

But the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago is having a little fun at its location's expense with a "Pay to Play" promotion. With every corporate meeting or social event booked there before April 30, the hotel is offering the choice of several incentives. "Blagojewhichever you'd like," it reads, between a 10-percent F&B discount; complimentary beverage vouchers; free wireless internet in meeting room; complimentary a.m. or p.m. break or an iTunes gift card for the event planner.

I'm not going to take advantage of the offer, but it's a great example of how creative marketing can attract attention. Hoteliers know blatant rate cutting isn't the answer, but promotions and sales can be during a down economy. If every hotel has the same offer, maybe finding a unique angle can be the difference between 60 and 70 percent occupancy.

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