Charlotte hoteliers expect a boost from the 2020 Republican National Convention similar to what the city received from the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—The 2012 Democratic National Convention put a spotlight on the Queen City that led to more large events and companies moving their headquarters into the area, and hoteliers believe the 2020 Republican National Convention will do the same.
Since 2012, Charlotte has added 29 hotels and 6,300 rooms, a 43% increase in supply, said Tom Murray, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
The city hosted 35,000 delegates, media and visitors in 2012, and is expecting a larger volume for next year’s RNC.
“Cleveland quoted numbers slightly bigger at 48,000, so we’ll certainly be prepared for numbers in that range,” Murray said.
Occupancy for hotels in the uptown area during the 2012 DNC were “basically full at 98% occupancy,” he said.
For the Democratic convention, 3-6 September 2012, hotel occupancy in the Charlotte market reached its highest absolute level (92.8%) on 5 September, according to data from STR, parent company of Hotel News Now. That represented a year-over-year increase of 53.2%. Average daily rate reached $213.71 (+146.6%) for that day, and revenue per available room was $198.30 (+277.7%). The greatest growth in the metrics during the event were recorded on the Monday, 3 September, when occupancy was up 157.4% to 84.5%, ADR was up 235.1% to $217.95 and RevPAR surged 762.6% to $184.17.
The 2016 RNC was held 17-21 July in Cleveland. Hotels in the Cleveland central business district-Independence, Ohio, submarket recorded the highest occupancy on 19 July (98.4%), an increase of 11.5% year over year. ADR for that day was $332.98 (+150.4%) and RevPAR was $327.56 (+179.3%). Again, the greatest growth during the event was on the Monday, 17 July, when occupancy was up 97.4% year over year to 95.9%, ADR grew by 181.2% to $315.94 and RevPAR increased by 455.1% to $302.91.
Spotlight on Charlotte
The 2012 DNC brought in business during the event and had a lasting effect on the city, said Mohammad Jenatian, president of the Greater Charlotte Hospitality & Tourism Alliance.
Since then, “our city has had probably its best run as far as recruiting corporations to the city of Charlotte, and for the hotel market in Charlotte, that is the No. 1 focus for us: to make sure our corporations are staying here, are expanding here and more importantly, are moving here,” he said.
Companies such as Honeywell and SunTrust have moved their headquarters to the city. Charlotte has also attracted other big events, such as the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend since it successfully held the 2012 DNC.
“(The DNC) validated our city, and the RNC will revalidate our city and once again put it in the spotlight,” he said.
Hotels in the area managed by Hotel Equities are preparing for “great compression” from the 2020 RNC, VP of Sales and Marketing Cesar Wurm said.
Properties have started having discussions about the event to ensure hotels have the appropriate staffing and security in place, he said.
Wurm said he’s expecting a high interest level and attendance for the event, adding that area hotels are working with the city and event organizers to contribute the maximum amount of rooms for attendees.
The Marriott SpringHill Suites Charlotte opened in June as ShoreRock Group’s first hotel in the Carolinas, and room blocks for the RNC at the hotel are already booked with major news organizations, ShoreRock President Cannon Ghelani said.
If the RNC is executed well, it will have a halo effect in bringing people into the city and encouraging planners of other big events to choose Charlotte, he said.
The preparation and execution for the RNC isn’t much different from other big events, but one big benefit is there is a two-week run in terms of bookings, unlike other large events, such as the Super Bowl, which only bring in bookings for three or so days, Ghelani said.