PWCVB expects record year

PROVIDENCE – The Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau expects to wrap 2017 with a 75 percent hotel room occupancy rate – a figure supported by three months of more than 87 percent occupancy – according to a presentation given by PWCVB president and CEO Martha Sheridan Wednesday morning at the Providence Foundation.

As of Wednesday afternoon, said Sheridan in an interview with the Providence Business News, “the city is at 76.4 percent [occupancy]” reflecting a 3.4 percentage point bump from the previous year.

Sheridan said much of this growth is due to “significant growth” in hotel occupancy rates in June, July, August, September and October. Occupancy rates exceeded 87 percent this year in June (87.1), August (87.4) and September (87.2).

PWCVB reported three months in which Providence hotels had greater than 87 percent occupancy rate./ PHOTO COURTESY PROVIDENCE WARWICK CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU

“In my recollection, which is a very long time, we have not seen occupancy at that level,” said Sheridan.

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Many of the events booked by the PWCVB which led to the successful year were meetings and conventions, explained Sheridan. They included:

  • The Association of College And University Housing Officers International Conference and Expo (June)
  • National Governors Association Summer Meeting (July)
  • 12th Annual Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium (August)
  • Hasbro’s HasCon (September)
  • National Association of Neonatal Nurses Annual Conference (October)
  • Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting (November)

Expanding on the city’s successful year, she explained growth in occupancy rates “went hand in hand with growth in hotel room rates” this year. From June through October, the average daily hotel room rate exceeded the corresponding month’s figure from 2016.

Average daily hotel room rate reached $182.69 in October 2017. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PROVIDENCE WARWICK CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU

The highest average daily room rate in that period was $182.69 in October and the low was $177.23 in July.

However, Sheridan is not resting on her laurels.

“The tourism industry and hotel occupancy numbers can by cyclical;” one good year can be “tough to match,” she said.

Looking at the number of meetings and conventions booked for 2018, she characterized the schedule, to-date, as “[less] robust” adding she “doesn’t expect to exceed” 2017 figures in the coming calendar year.

The organization’s “ongoing focus” will be to book meetings, conventions and sports events for the Providence market, she said, but the PWCVB is also looking to promote hotel room stays during nights other than Saturday and address the millennial market.

Calling the generation born between roughly 1980 and 1997 the “emerging traveler,” Sheridan said PWCVB is expanding its product lines to highlight “the core essence of what makes Providence tick.”

Kayak outings, walking tours and culinary-themed experiences will be top among products pitched to the millennial traveler.

Moving into 2018 Sheridan said PWCVB will also be working closely with the R.I. Commerce Dept. and regional tourism departments to promote international travel given the growing list of direct flights to and from T.F. Green airport in Warwick.

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email,