I had a great weekend. I went to Gainesville, Florida with my daughter to her friend’s wedding. Before I left though, I was hanging out at Barley and Hops (again, there’s sound if you click on that link) and struck up a conversation with a woman who was visiting from St. Louis and staying at the Hampton Inn. Her name was Dina and she looked like a tourist, complete with a book to read at the bar, which was enough for me to ask her why she was in town. After getting through the small talk, I asked her how she ended up at Barley and Hops. She was a very friendly woman, in town on business for one night only.
She apparently asked the front desk at the hotel for a local place to eat and they tried to direct her to Macaroni Grill and the various other chains that are down by Hampton Inn. She again asked for more referrals to something she couldn’t get at home and the only place they could refer her to was May’s. May’s for sure would have given her a taste of local flavor, but she drove past the crowded parking lot and kept on going until she found the Hops.
I was stunned. I asked her if they even thought to direct her to head to downtown Frederick, a very easy drive from the Hampton. She told me no, they hadn’t mentioned anything about a downtown and when I described to her all the options that she could have had going downtown, she was surprised that the hotel had not even tried to send her there. Odd, since she specifically asked for recomendations for local food that she couldn’t get at home.
So I’m wondering, why aren’t the local hotels directing out-of-towners downtown? Do they have a deal with the local chains restaurants to direct their guests to them? Or is it that the downtown restaurants don’t advertise at the hotels on the outskirts of town? If you were in town for a few days, wouldn’t you like to be directed to downtown Frederick, just so you could get an idea of the local flavor?
Why don’t the hotels promote the downtown?