Hotelier slams "knee-jerk" reactions to 11 September

Hotelier slams "knee-jerk" reactions to 11 September

An independent hotelier has slammed big hotel companies for taking "knee-jerk" decisions in the wake of the 11 September attacks.

Martyn Levitt, finance director of six-strong Firmdale Hotels, said he and his fellow directors sat down on 12 September and decided not to make any big staff cuts, discount room rates or cut capital expenditure.

"This contrasts vividly with the big boys of the industry such as Six Continents and Whitbread who have harmed their long-term interests by taking knee-jerk decisions," he claimed.

Levitt said his experience in 1992-1993 after the Gulf War "was that inexperienced hotel managers led the industry in a rate cutting frenzy which helped no one."

He added that Firmdale would continue to invest heavily, particularly in sales and marketing. "But those companies that cut their sales and marketing budgets now deserve to wither and die. They're absolutely crazy."

Levitt was speaking at the Hotel Report Special Crisis Seminar, taking place today at the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel in London.

Firmdale operates and owns six luxury town house hotels in London, with 60% of their custom coming from the USA.

Levitt said occupany rates in London town house properties, excluding Firmdale, were down by 38% in October compared with the same month last year.

At Firmdale, occupancies were down by only 20% during October and by 17% during November, he claimed., adding: "We must be doing something right."

by Andrew Davies

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