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Does Salt Lake Need A New Convention Hotel?

March 18, 2013

Most experts agree that the symbiotic relationship between convention facilities and their adjacent or connected hotel cannot be over emphasized. In a recent survey of meeting planners, 73% cited adjacent headquarter hotels with large room blocks as the number one factor in site selection for their events.

Cities such as Charlotte, North Carolina have proved large, adjacent convention center hotels are the key to recouping lost convention center bookings, realizing the maximum return on the investments they’ve made in convention infrastructure. Additionally these hotels draw tourists of all kinds to their cities’ surrounding attractions and nearby hotels (increasing occupancy rates and room revenue for all hotels across the submarket).

Utah is particularly well-positioned to benefit from the residual benefits of improved performance by the Salt Palace Convention Center. Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research reports show that 28% of all Salt Palace convention attendees return to cities around Utah for a vacation, and that they typically bring 2.8 people with them, spending on average 3 days.

Salt Lake City is the window to the state, and analysis shows that a new hotel will bring an additional 150,000 convention delegates each year–many of whom will return to Utah for business and/or leisure.

The Salt Palace Convention Center is an excellent facility in a truly exciting location. The convention center hotel, with its increased meeting space and ballrooms, is a completely different investment product than a standard hotel, necessitating financial support of some kind from local or state government. To illustrate, 15 of 17 recently opened headquarter hotels of 700 or more rooms had public investment. The State has the opportunity to elevate the Salt Palace to a point that can create long term benefits for all of Salt Lake City, County, and the entire state of Utah. The state has an opportunity to create immediate and long term jobs, attract more tourists, increase tax revenue and raise the national profile of Salt Lake City and Utah above competitors like Phoenix and Denver.

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