Tuesday, 01 November 2016 19:19

Talk of the Towns for November 2, 2016

Written by  Staff

Refuge on a ‘Budget’

Talkers can’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of successful business management, or the investigative process involved in identifying which North Carolina establishments set out to unfairly bilk customers during the early October devastation delivered by Hurricane Matthew, but a recent release from the state attorney general’s office indicates that a classy joint situated right at the core of the crown jewel of the Piedmont in downtown Gastonia might be in the crosshairs of fairly accurate accusations.

According to the AG’s statement, the picturesque and stately Budget Inn on West Franklin Street — the hub of cultural exploration, dining and entertainment in all of Gastonia (the county seat of Gaston and that county’s largest city with almost 10 times as many residents as the towns of Stanley and Ranlo combined!) — took advantage of Matthew evacuees by charging as much as $300 per night for just one luxurious unit in its 62-room complex.

Now since the normal, nightly rate for rooms at the “Budge” — which in snootier times has been known as the Villager and Village Lodge and is situated on prime real estate just a quick drunken stagger from Chaos Tattooing and a brief panicky jog from Bobby’s Pawn Shop — range from $40 all the way up to the nosebleed DeLuxe rate of $45 for what must be the imperial double-bed non-smoking suite, there appears perhaps to be some justification for a few raised eyebrows about that $300 charge. But, to play devil’s advocate for just a second and uncover a possible defense for such behavior, a closer look reveals it may have just been marketing, not manipulation.

Late last week, long after Hurricane Matthew’s tide had, for the most part, subsided, the Budget Inn website still listed a $300 charge for Friday night in a massive 226-square-foot room featuring a king-sized bed and the prestigious aura of non-smoking designation. It was right down the hall from another room with a king bed available for just $40, but that bargain-basement rate was for cramped-by-comparison accommodations with only 225 square feet of living space and no rules against smoking.

And the mysterious nature of the Inn’s marketing ploy is also fuzzier when you discover that the room going for $300 a night on Friday could be yours on Saturday night for just $45; but Sunday, the rate soars to $333 a night.

Of course, the fluctuating rates may illustrate that Fridays and Sundays are the peak times for tourists and travelers flocking to West Franklin Street and desperate for proximity to the golden triangle formed by the Easy Mart convenience store, Save-a-Lot discount grocery and the FabTec Machine Shop surrounding the hotel, and it might also be that those days are traditionally when it’s next to impossible for find a vacancy at the higher-class Midtown Motor Inn just a few blocks away.

Either way, it’s not like other establishments don’t jiggle the rates a tad based on demand. At the Bourbon-Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, dead center of the French Quarter and the closest version of Gastonia’s Miracle Mile Louisiana has to offer, you could get a weekday room last week for just $189 a night, compared to the $600 and beyond charged when teensy little gatherings such as Mardi Gras, the Sugar Bowl and the Super Bowl roll into the Big Easy.

So who’s to say an early October evening in the abandoned tawdry midsection of a Southern textile town, just steps from the YMCA along the most impressive stretch of auto-repair shops in the county serenaded by truck traffic on the nearby interstate and never too far from the train tracks, can’t compare?

1 comment

  • Comment Link Eric Rowell Wednesday, 02 November 2016 07:22 posted by Eric Rowell

    Why start by admitting you know little about running a hotel, and then proceed to criticize a hotel for the rates it decided to charge in the wake of a hurricane? What rates would you have charged in the same circumstances if you were in charge of the hotel? Was it one of the Talkers who called the NC AG's office to report this local business in Gastonia? Why not just openly advocate for state control of the economy instead of pretending you only support limited state control of the economy during declared state of emergencies?

    Eric Rowell


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