“The industry in Minneapolis had a record year last year, and
we are likely to build on that during this year, with a really
strong fall [season],” Payne says.
Minneapolis saw its best year ever in hospitality in 2015,
achieving highs in hotel occupancy, convention center revenue,
future hotel room nights booked and future events and conventions booked, among other measures. It also topped records set
in 2014, according to Meet Minneapolis, the city’s CVB.
“Remember how we called 2014 the ‘best year ever?’” asks
Melvin Tennant, CAE (MPI Minnesota Chapter), president and
CEO of Meet Minneapolis. “Well, 2015 was even better. Through
the efforts of the Meet Minneapolis team and the entire hospital-Hosting a record 604 meetings and conventions in 2015
that were booked by Meet Minneapolis, the city’s annual hotel
occupancy rate increased to an all-time record high 74 percent.
Some US$625 million in future meetings and conventions business was booked in 2015, and that has impacted hotel capacity
growth, with 2,138 additional hotel rooms currently being built
or in development.
Reports from cities across the Midwest show a similar trend.
A $2 billion surge in downtown construction is under way in
Wisconsin’s largest city, including a $500 million sports and
entertainment complex that will be home of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and within walking distance of the Wisconsin
Center and convention hotels. Other construction includes
more hotels and the highly anticipated Milwaukee Streetcar,
with construction on the initial 2.5-mile downtown route getting under way this year.
“In Milwaukee, they have basically increased the number of
meetings from 2014 to 2015 by 50 percent,” says Tom Graybill, vice
president, sales, for Tri-Marq Communications and president of the
MPI Wisconsin Chapter. “Milwaukee has gone from 380 meetings
in 2014 to 570 in 2015, which is quite impressive. But the growth
is not just limited to Milwaukee—we are seeing it across Wiscon-
sin, and there is a lot of optimism about the industry in this state
Jason Linscott, president of the MPI Ohio Chapter and vice pres-
ident of HPN Global, a site selection ;irm, says that the Midwest is
affected by the general, nationwide upsurge in the meeting indus-
try, but the region also has a couple of other key factors going for
it—a location that makes it easily accessible to the majority of the
U.S. population and the generally hospitable and convivial attitude
of the region’s people.
“People here welcome visitors, and that counts for a lot,” he says.
All key indicators in the hotel industry in Columbus, which
has 4,000 downtown hotel rooms, were at all-time highs at
the end of 2015, including record room rates and occupancy.
“[It] was a tremendous year for our hotel industry,” says Brian
Ross, Experience Columbus president and CEO. “And we’re proud
of the record-breaking ;igures citywide and downtown. The future
looks bright. This year, we are excited for Port Columbus to ;inish
its modernization initiative and the Greater Columbus Convention
Center to progress in its renovation and branding project.”
The convention center in Columbus has a $125 million
upgrade and expansion under way that will give it 373,000
square feet of contiguous meeting and exhibit space and add
an 800-car parking garage (giving the center 4,000 parking