Last year might have been a decent one for the convention business in Columbus, Ohio, but local tourism officials are decidedly bearish for 2009.
“This is going to be one of the tougher years we’ve had to set a goal” for bookings, Brian Ross, vice president of sales for Experience Columbus, told the Columbus-Dispatch in their Feb. 5 editions.
“We certainly don’t see a large growth for bookings several years out, and we know we’re going to see a slippage in groups that book and come in this year.”
Even Columbus’ popularity with large state associations isn’t holding as the groups hesitate to commit, the paper said. “We’ve heard from many different organizations, particularly government groups, that they were waiting to see what happens with the changes in the administration. They want to make sure they have the funding to have their meetings,” Ross told the paper.
The economy was a major factor in the 47 percent year-over-year decline in bookings made by the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, Linda Logan, its executive director, told the paper.
“We’re finding that a lot of our youth sports groups are going away from signing hotel contracts and just putting together rooms on their own in the suburban hotels,” Logan said. “They can be harder to track, and they’ve been a little ahead of the curve in being price-sensitive.”
One bright spot might be new signs of movement toward what the Dispatch described as a “long-sought, publicly financed convention-center hotel.”
William Jennison, executive director of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, told the paper the city and county were “getting close” to a plan for the center.
Still, “there’s a lot of fear,” Philip A. Craig, executive director of the Ohio Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, told the Dispatch. “The falloff started slightly last year, but this is the year we’re really going to feel it.”
This article was submitted by Kathleen O’Connor, a contributing writer for Biz2Credit. Biz2Credit is a small business marketplace that provides entrepreneurs with the latest industry news and financial advice. Send all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.