Tuesday August 8, 2017

Hospitable Approach: Hotel Sector Grows in Oswego

Home2 Suites by Hilton adds to a potent mix of hotels in Port City
By Lou Sorendo

    Home2 Suites by Hilton in Oswego

    While Oswego County tourism advocates tout the area’s many destination points, the hospitality industry is following suit with new options designed to entice visitors.


    Oswego now features a new Home2 Suites by Hilton and a Holiday Inn Express & Suites on the city’s east side, along with several other large- and small-scale hotels and motels.


    Home2Suites by Hilton is the second and the latest brand hotel to open in Oswego within a year. It is holding a grand opening from 4-7 p.m. today at its location at 252 state Route 104, which is between the Oswego Speedway and Rite Aid. Prizes and giveaways will be featured, as well as hors d'oeuvres, beer, wine and signature cocktails. Catering will be provided by Lighthouse Lanes. Oswego Speedway will have a race car display, while hotel tours will be available.


    Is the pie big enough to sustain all the hospitality options in Oswego?


    “Home2 Suites has a positive outlook on the pie being big enough in Oswego,” said Stacey Phillips, director of sales for Home2 Suites by Hilton. “Oswego is now able to offer a variety of appealing, branded hotel options because of the addition of this hotel.”


    “This may actually entice additional groups and organizations to plan larger events, meetings and training in Oswego,” she added.


    Phillips said the city of Oswego was deemed an ideal market for an extended-stay hotel.


    “The current product in the hotel market was lacking both a Hilton-branded hotel as well as an all-suites property,” she said.


    Oswego Mayor William “Billy” Barlow said the more events the city has and options it has to host people and events, the more visitors will come.


    “I believe once we get people here, our assets speak for themselves and we can make return visitors out of them,” Barlow said.


    Michael Doran is executive director of Branch Management LLC. He is responsible for both the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Oswego as well as a Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Malone.


    “It is a benefit to have growth in the hotel sector as other businesses may be enticed to open shop close by,” he said. “We believe there is room for growth in Oswego, especially considering the future expansion of downtown and the current number of reasons people already have to visit.”


    While one may think that the hospitality industry is highly competitive, there is a spirit of collaboration within it as well.


    Doran said in the hotel industry, there’s definitely an ability to work together when people choose to.


    “By working together it means using each other’s assets to offset what somebody might be looking for,” he said. “Sometimes we get calls from groups that look for something bigger than what we offer, like a large group meeting space or something along those lines. We can definitely recommend the right attribute to that guest to satisfy them, as long as it’s done collaboratively and on a reciprocal basis. It works very well.”


    Doran said all players on the hospitality scene aspire to a certain niche.


    “Definitely for small hotels, they do a lot of things very well that people can identify with that fits their needs. They market toward that,” he said.


    In his hometown of Malone, Doran also serves as president of the chamber of commerce.


    “The reality is when you build business, more business comes. That’s really what we are looking at, especially being in Oswego on this side of town. We have an opportunity with lodging to spur on more growth with restaurants and other segments that might not be here at this time. I think it’s a bonus for everybody. It’s catalystic growth where everybody can work together and create a better environment with more things for people to do and more reasons to come here.”



    Home2 Suites is targeting extended-stay guests — five-plus nights — such as individuals requiring a long-term stay due to various reasons that include relocation or home renovations, long-term training and consultation projects, construction projects, and power plant shut downs.


    In addition, Home2 Suites is looking for transient-stay guests as well — one to four nights— such as the travelers associated with corporate business and government, as well as leisure guests coming in for a weekend event.


    Phillips said Home2 Suites brings a “beautiful” addition to the hotel product in Oswego, offering an array of abundant hotel amenities.


    She said it offers an option for the loyal Hilton Honors members, as well as the guest looking for a more comfortable stay in a spacious suite.


    Phillips noted Home2 Suites is the only all-suites property in the Oswego market, therefore giving it a competitive edge for extended-stay business in the area.


    Other amenities that might influence the choice of a business or leisure guest to choose Home2 Suites could be that the hotel is an eco-friendly as well as a pet-friendly facility.


    Home2 Suites also offers spacious public spaces, such as the Oasis lobby and multiple outdoor patio spaces offering gas grills and a fire pit.


    The hotel also has an indoor heated saline pool, a Spin2Cycle fitness room as well as guest laundry machines.


    City leader receptive — Barlow said these hotel corporations spend money doing feasibility studies and analyzing the market before they decide to invest millions of dollars on a new location and facility.


    “They just don’t build it as a shot in the dark, hoping to make money,” he said. “They usually have confidence in the market and see some sort of trend that entices them to invest. It’s their job to make the business decision to build and their job to infiltrate the market in a way that turns a profit.”


    In terms of the new top-brand hotels in the city, Barlow said they are offering a different product by catering to people who are staying for a longer period of time and want something more than a typical hotel room.


    Barlow noted the new hotels “are very modern, trendy, unique and different than the hotels that currently exist,” he said.


    Barlow said the Home2 Suites by Hilton offers a different choice.


    “If you’re in town for a week or more on business or visiting family, you may want more than a hotel room,” he said. “This facility gives you that choice.”


    He said when people visit Oswego, “you want them to be comfortable and satisfied.


    “You want their experience to suit them. By offering more choices in any area, you increase your chances of providing that desired experience.”


    Finding their niches — Michael Doran, who runs the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Oswego, said the city of Oswego represents a well-balanced hotel consumer market that includes a steady mix of business and leisure visitors throughout the year.


    “The Oswego market has for many years been underserved and needed a boost in overall room count to satisfy the demand of this exceptional visitor mix,” he added.

    Of its 81 rooms at the Oswego hotel, 12 are suites.


    “Holiday Inn Express & Suites represented the best fit from the major hotel brands for the Oswego market as it is designed with both corporate and leisure travelers in mind,” Doran noted. “We have a design that purposefully attracts a broad audience.”


    The Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Oswego was the first built in New York state featuring a new design from its parent company, InterContinental Hotels Group, named “Formula Blue.”


    “The design creates a warm environment for people who may want to just relax, collaborate with peers or even relax and work at the same time. This allows the hotel to appeal to a broad audience,” Doran said.


    He said during the design phase, his team was able to add special amenities not originally in the Formula Blue specifications, such as a large outdoor gas fireplace and seating area.


    “This outdoor area has been a favorite for many of our guests,” he said.