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In a state so dependent on its hospitality and tourism industry, convention business is of more than a little consequence.
According to the Providence-Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, there were 23 convention groups in 2012 that booked more than 450 rooms in Providence at their peak, and there are 26 such events scheduled for 2013 already.
The result of all that convention business was an occupancy rate for Providence hotels in 2012 of 67.6 percent, well above the national rate of 61.4 percent, as well as the New England rate of 61.6 percent. Additionally, the average daily rate for hotels in the capital city was $137.66, a 5.7 percent increase over the 2011 ADR and well above the national and New England ADRs of $106.10 and $126.80, respectively.
There is a multiplier effect to all that business, too. From restaurants to retail to event venues, more folks in town mean more spending in town.
Maybe the convention business is healthy because non-Rhode Islanders are starting to understand what we know instinctively – it’s just a fun place to be.
For instance, business lunches are on the upswing. Sure, with the economy improving, more businesses are loosening the purse strings. But it’s more than that. Doing business in a pleasant setting – and with so many fine restaurants here (and more opening all the time), it doesn’t take much to find one – helps generate connections that help your company grow.
In a similar way, the region’s chambers of commerce are finding that improved social-event options are something members want. Business happens at all times of the day (or week), so serving members requires holding inventive and engaging gatherings.
So as you plan for the coming year, make sure that the entertainment budget is healthy. You’ll be helping yourself (and having a good time doing it), as well as helping Rhode Island continue its comeback. •
Mark S. Murphy