There's clever marketing in a downtime and then there's pure desperation. The San Diego-based Rancho Bernardo Inn's recent pricing strategy would fit neatly into the latter category.
That's because the allegedly upscale resort is now offering a $19 per night 'survivor' package aimed at victims of the current recession.
According to Reuters, down-on-their-luck consumers can still enjoy the resort's amenities as long at they bring along their own tent, flashlight, sleeping bags, toilet paper and insect repellent. For the $19, vacationers get to set up camp at one of the resort's lovely pools and enjoy all the usual frills sans the warmth and comfort of an actual room. One would also assume room (or tent) service wouldn't be included.
This is a terrible idea for any number of reasons. First, and most importantly, it undermines whatever image and reputation the Rancho Bernardo Inn has built up until now. Second, the $19 per night offer will attract, shall we say, a slightly less exclusive clientele. Third, the latter will scare off middle and upper-scale patrons who have either patronized the inn in the past or might consider doing so in the future. Like Mercedes, Cadillac and other luxury brands that have eroded their up-market brand image by slashing prices, the Rancho Bernardo will pay a heavy price down the road.
Moving forward, the Rancho Bernardo Inn will be forever known as 'tent city,’ the 'homeless hotel' or some other horrific moniker.
The four-star inn's assistant general manager calls it '…clever marketing in a downtime.' I call it brand suicide.
*Thanks to Greg Schmalz for the idea for this post.