Convention demand drives Columbus’ hotel openings boom
Convention demand drives Columbus’ hotel openings boom
21 MARCH 2018 8:19 AM

Columbus is expected to see a record number of conferences and visitors in 2018, and more hotels are in the works to accommodate sports fans, conference attendees and more.

COLUMBUS, Ohio—The number of conferences and visitors in Columbus is growing, and the city is filling its need for more hotel rooms.

The local convention and visitors bureau, Experience Columbus, anticipates 28 large citywide conventions in Columbus in 2018, according to The Columbus Dispatch. 

Brian Ross, president and CEO of Experience Columbus, said the city saw a 17% increase in large events in 2017, and the market has benefited from its “chance to show itself on a national level,” he said, with opportunities such as winning the Smart City grant out of Washington, D.C., for the city’s transportation system.

The Hilton Columbus Downtown is the Greater Columbus Convention Center’s headquarters hotel, and local officials have announced plans for a 470-room expansion of the hotel.

In February, occupancy in Columbus was down 1.5% to 53.5% year to date, according to data from STR, Hotel News Now’s parent company. Average daily rate increased 0.9% to $98.77 and revenue per available room decreased 0.6% to $52.83.

More hotels coming to Columbus
Aside from the Hilton hotel expansion, five more hotels are expected to open in Columbus in the next two years, including a Moxy Hotels property and a Canopy by Hilton property, both slated to open in early 2019, Ross said.

There are several full-service hotels* in the Columbus area, and the 222-room Renaissance Columbus Westerville-Polaris Hotel** will open as another full-service option for visitors in April 2018.

Scott Starek, GM of the Renaissance Columbus, said the hotel will serve as another hotel for business-transient demand during the week, and as a “big social house” for weddings and other events on weekends.

Westerville is a city with a lot of character, he said, which matches the vibe of the Renaissance brand. The hotel will have a “modern lake house theme,” Starek said, and will focus on food and beverage and connecting with the local community.

Matthew McClelland, EVP of operations and development at Concord Hospitality, which is developing the Renaissance Columbus and will manage the hotel, said the development of the hotel was announced in 2015.

“The partnership with the City of Westerville has been amazing,” he said. “Their anticipation of what this property brings to the area is palpable.”

Concord also is working on the dual-branded SpringHill Suites Columbus Easton Towne Center/TownePlace Suites Columbus Easton Towne Center. This hotel, as well at the Renaissance Columbus Westerville, is co-owned and co-developed with Continental Real Estate Properties, McClelland said.

He said Concord Hospitality President and CEO Mark Laport and Continental Real Estate Companies Founding Partner Frank Kass both share the same vision of developing up-and-coming areas.

“Their shared passion for seeing the long-term growth potential in a particular market has fueled some incredible hotel projects in the greater Columbus area,” McClelland said.

McClelland added that Concord’s dual-branded Marriott Hotel and Residence Inn property, which opened in August 2017, serves the ongoing growth of The Ohio State University and its medical facilities. The project was designed to “meet the needs for best-in-class meeting space with catering in the OSU area, while also providing lodging for both the extended-stay guest, as well as the traveler (who) appreciates the luxuries provided by a full-service property,” he said.

“The mix of guests will be highlighted with large corporate meetings and their attendees, as well as a large contingent of athletic teams and individuals coming in to visit either the university or one of the area hospitals,” McClelland said. “We also expect to see a heavy mix of business travelers (who are) attracted to the full-service Marriott experience.”

With 2018 expected to be a strong year for Columbus, this is a positive for downtown Columbus and its outlying markets, McClelland said.

“Big demand drivers such as conventions, sports and concerts provide compression in lodging near downtown and the university area, and the whole Central Ohio area benefits from that,” he said. “It really creates a wonderful synergy for all of the different areas around the Interstate 270 Outerbelt.”

*Correction, 21 March 2017: A previous version of the story had an incorrect number for full-service hotels. 

**Correction, 22 March 2017: This story has been updated with the correct room count at the Renaissance Columbus Westerville-Polaris Hotel.

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