Molly K. Lange, Special for The Republic | azcentral.com 11:12 a.m. MST April 14, 2014
Scottsdale may not have a convention center, but the city is using its roster of resorts and hotels to grow its travel and meeting business.
Megan Doyle, community-affairs coordinator for the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said event bookings generated during the first half of her organization’s current fiscal year were 18 percent higher than in the same period a year ago.
“We hope to see continued growth as we move forward from the recession,” Doyle said.
Because the city doesn’t have a convention center and has no immediate plans to build one, Scottsdale markets itself to conventions and travelers differently than Phoenix does. Phoenix’s convention center, which underwent a major expansion that wrapped up in 2008, offers 900,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space.
In Scottsdale, much of the convention and meeting activity takes place at local resorts that operate their own conference centers.
During the 2012-13 fiscal year, the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau helped book 433 meetings at area hotels and resorts.
“Many additional events also were booked directly by our properties,” said Rachel Pearson, vice president of community and government affairs at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The bulk of Scottsdale’s meeting-room business comes from corporate meetings, which account for 60 percent of the business. Associations represent 30 percent of the market, and niche meetings account for the final 10 percent. Roughly 34 percent of Scottsdale’s corporate business is from companies that have not previously used the city as a meeting location.
During the 2012-13 fiscal year, meetings booked in Scottsdale had an economic impact of $74.6 million, Doyle said. During the previous year, such meetings had an impact of $70.9 million. The overall economic impact of all visitors to Scottsdale, including those traveling for conventions and meetings and those on vacation, is $171 million annually.
“The CVB wants to bring in as much money as possible within their community and wants as little of that to flow into the neighboring communities,” said Henry Harteveldt, an airline, hotel and travel analyst with Hudson Crossing.
“They generate a nice amount of money, but it’s nothing compared to the economic impact of Vegas, Chicago, Orlando. It wouldn’t justify the cost of building a convention center,” Harteveldt said of the Scottsdale market.
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