Manchester native's website smokes out hotel rooms
If finding a hotel room for a smoker is a drag, then a Manchester native's new website will do the searching for you.
Smoketels.com claims its viewers have instant access to more than 100,000 hotels worldwide — and 250,000 hotel rooms.
"We strictly offer smoking hotel rooms only," Shawn Bradley said last week. "In today's society, we want to work smarter, not harder."
Since he launched his site Feb. 2, the 1995 Central High grad has recouped his initial $25,000 investment.
"We've already beat the month's goal as a whole" only 12 days into March, said Bradley, who now resides in Lake Forest, Calif., southeast of Los Angeles.
The fan of Marlboro Lights said he founded the site after he became frustrated with hotel booking sites that "don't make it easy to follow."
He cites millions of potential U.S. customers who travel and prefer smoking rooms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 42.1 million adult smokers in the United States in 2012 or 18.1 percent of all U.S. adults.
Bradley's booking site charges no booking or cancellation fees.
Bradley, who founded the company Smoketel LLC last November, estimated about a dozen New Hampshire hotels can be found on his site.
The Super 8 Manchester Airport on Brown Avenue is one of three Manchester hotels listed on the smoketels.com website.
A randomly chosen Saturday in April showed the same price on his website and on Super 8's own site.
Kathleen Kemp, that hotel's front office manager, hadn't heard of smoketels.com and said finding smoking rooms is not difficult.
"People can Google smoking rooms in Manchester and find it as well," Kemp said.
She said her hotel has 25 of 93 rooms classified as smoking rooms.
"Ours are very popular, and that's why we haven't done away with them," she said, saying construction workers often stay there.
Officials at the Hilton and Marriott hotel chains didn't return email messages seeking comment.
Bradley, who visited Manchester family members during last Christmas, said his company has access to a giant global network of hotel rooms, and "we only extract smoking inventory into our site."
"We already know these hotels have them because they upload them daily," Bradley said.
He declined to say how many rooms he books a day or what percentage of each room's rate he keeps.
The site has scored attention in national media, including a light-hearted look by the Conde Nast Traveler website.
"We wonder if the site would consider adding 'stocked mini bar' to its search function," the Web blurb urged.
Bradley said the site has received more than 700,000 hits in its first month. A 30-second commercial is running on YouTube.
"It's a niche," he said. "It's something that didn't exist until we came about."