"Hoping to keep its 119 rooms filled," writes Hugo Martín at the Los Angeles Times, "Hotel Erwin on Venice Beach is offering an unusual promotion for its countercultural clientele: an Ink and Stay package that includes $100 toward a tattoo and a bottle of tequila to numb the pain."

The hipster haven isn't alone in its outré attempt to attract attention—and guests. To buoy average occupancy rates that dipped below 60 percent this summer, luxury hotels enticed their guests with offers like:

  • The free use of Mercedes, BMW and Porsche convertibles
  • Room rates determined by the day's high temperature
  • Late (6:00 pm) check-out and a $75 voucher for a spa treatment

"One reason for all the promotions," notes Martín, "is that hotel owners are trying to draw business without cutting room rates—a move that could lead to a backlash from customers once the hotels try to raise the rates again in better economic times."

Such tactics can increase traffic. According to Bill Doak, general manager of the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, discounts and special packages accounted for 20 percent of guest sales last year.

Word of warning: Just be sure the numbers in your promotions add up to real savings. When Martín did the math on the Hotel Erwin package, he discovered the $399 tab trimmed only $5 from an estimated non-package price of $404.

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