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By Tucker Johnson, Instructional Assistant Professor at University of Houston

It's long been said that the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location. I have agreed with this assessment having worked at properties in prime locations and less than desirable locations. Last week, however, I began to question this age-old adage.

I live in Texas but am attending a wedding in Chicago this summer and was looking at making hotel reservations. I wanted to be close to the wedding location, but all of the hotels nearby were in the $300-$400 per night price range. This wedding happens to occur on Father's Day weekend and Northwestern University's graduation weekend. I found more reasonably priced hotel locations about seven miles away and began to check on public transportation options (I know the "L" train runs all over town and is cost effective).

Unfortunately, I found that to take public transportation I would have to first go downtown and then backtrack to get to my location. It would take about an hour and 10 minutes each way. This was not going to be a good solution. I began to search again for hotels in the immediate area and still could not find any rates that I would be willing to pay.

As I was searching I glanced at my phone and noticed my Uber app. I thought: "I wonder if Uber is available in Chicago?" After a little searching I found that I could Uber from the hotel to the wedding location for about $25 and it would take about 25 minutes. This seemed doable. I booked the room seven miles away and convinced a lot of my family to employ the same strategy.

I am now saving about $300 per night because of Uber's ability to take me where I need to go. The additional cost of Uber ($50 round trip) will be split among multiple riders. After factoring in my portion of paying for transportation, the ability to stay a little further than desired will save me about $500 over the course of the weekend.

So what can hotels do to capitalize on this? I would suggest that hotels located a little too far away from popular destinations put together "Uber Packages".

Are guests looking to visit the Alamo and Riverwalk in San Antonio but your hotel is four miles away from these attractions? You could offer a much more competitive rate than the hotels that are close by and offer to give an Uber credit of up to $15 (in San Antonio the total cost for Uber rides is under $2 per mile). This could be a win-win for your hotel and the customer: you get additional business; they get their desired experience at a lower overall cost.

The increasing availability of ride sharing is already being taken advantage of by the general public: "Uber passes Starbucks as business travelers' no. 1 expense" - http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/26/technology/uber-expense-reports/

Now seems like a good time for hotels to proactively use these resources to address their location downfalls. Maybe one day the three most important things in real estate will be updated to Location, Location, Uber Availability.

About Tucker Johnson

After nearly 20 years working in food and beverage and hotel sales, Tucker Johnson is now an Instructional Assistant Professor with the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management-San Antonio. He received his BS in Hotel Administration from Cornell University and MHA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He holds CHSP, CHIA, and CHRM designations from the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Educational Institute (AHLEI).

Contact: Tucker Johnson

tajohnson7@uh.edu

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