Peterborough inns losing out on corporate business

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, November 06, 2017 10:3PM

While the Monadnock area’s inns and bed and breakfasts serve the vacationing and tourism community, it’s losing out when it comes to government and business lodging.

“Our tourism season is really between May and November,” said Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Director Sean Ryan. “It’s corporate travel that really supports the Southern New Hampshire hotel industry in the interim.” 

But that corporate niche isn’t usually interested in the kinds of services bed and breakfasts provide, said Ryan, preferring to look to larger chains that can offer lower rates. Ryan pointed out the discrepancies on a flow chart that tracks room nights and revenue from corporations renting hotel rooms in the area. Data from six hotels in the nearby area – including Gardner and Keene – number in the hundreds. But only one Peterborough business reported that those same companies only stayed a handful of times.

The idea of a hotel is alarming to the existing businesses that currently serve the tourism and vacation crowd, said Ryan, but he insisted that often, they’re serving a completely different clientele that aren’t patronizing inns anyway.

“It’s a matter of getting them to understand that it really is a different group,” Ryan said.

Some of these corporate bookings are associated with Peterborough companies, including New Hampshire Ball Bearings and Monadnock Community Hospital, Ryan said. But often, visiting consultants will book hotels over the border in Massachusetts in Fitchburg or Gardner, making their stop along the way after flying into Boston. And those lost dollars add up.

Towns get a benefit when people stay at their accommodations through the state’s 9 percent rooms and meals tax, which is added to the town’s coffers. So, those hundreds of lost rooms translate into thousands of lost tax dollars, as well as the lost opportunity for those guests to patronize the town’s shops and restaurants. Which, Ryan argued, is why Peterborough or a nearby town is in need of a hotel or short-term stay apartment.

“So much business goes to the Colonial in Gardner or the DoubleTree in Leominster,” Ryan said. “If we had extended stay lodging, those people might be here.”

But according to select board chairman Tyler Ward, while a hotel is something that has been brought up in vision forums and town planning, the region widely has been more supportive of local efforts than the idea of a large outside chain, even if there might be fringe benefits from the additional guests.

Some of the objections related to chains can be negotiated, Ryan said. For example, brand aesthetics.

“We have been talking to the town a lot about finding a hotel brand that would fit into the aesthetics of the town, and there are plenty that can do that,” he said.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.