Quarterly Report Part 1: President’s Report for July-September 2010

The Convention & Visitors Bureau prepares a thorough report each quarter for the Springfield City Council, the city manager and the CVB board of directors. Each quarter, we will also present that report to you in Issues & Info.

If you have questions about any part of the report, please feel free to contact the CVB staff at 417-881-5300.

Hotel Statistics

After eighteen consecutive months of decline, Springfield’s hotel industry has finally started to recover from the recession.  The first quarter of the 2010/11 fiscal year saw the first increase in room demand since December 2008.

According to local hotel statistics collected by the bureau, the number of occupied hotel rooms (room demand) in Springfield during July, August, and September 2010 increased from 291,026 for the same period last year to 308,715 this year, a healthy increase of 17,689 occupied rooms or 6.1 percent.  All three months of the first quarter posted increases in room demand and preliminary reports for October show the room demand increase will continue.

Because of the increase in room demand, many hotels and motels are trying to increase average daily rate (the average amount hotels charge for sleeping rooms).  After four consecutive quarters of decreases, average daily rate increased during the first quarter of 2010/11 – barely.  Average daily rate increased to $65.99 from $65.98 for the same period last year, an increase of $0.01.  Although the quarterly increase is minimal, both August and September posted increases and September’s average daily rate increased by a relatively healthy $1.10.

As a result of the increase in occupied rooms and average daily rate, total room sales increased by 6.1 percent during the first quarter to $20,372,427 from $19,202,121 for the same period last year.

Citywide hotel occupancy, average daily rate, and market mix statistics are recorded monthly by the bureau with the cooperation of hotels and motels in Springfield.

Information Centers Visits

Visitors to the bureau’s Tourist Information Center on U.S. 65 and Battlefield Road declined during the first quarter.  Compared to the same period last year, traffic decreased 35.8 percent to 7,647.  Much of this decrease can be attributed to construction along U.S. 65 and on Battlefield Road.  Traffic at the Airport Visitor Information Center increased slightly (0.2 percent) to 6,589 during the first quarter.  Total passengers enplaned and deplaned at the Springfield-Branson National Airport increased 2.1 percent during the first quarter to 227,550.

Matters of Money

Thanks to the economic recovery, revenue comparisons with last year and with budget are both positive.  Year-to-date lodging tax collections compared to budget are up 4.4 percent.  Compared to last year, lodging tax collections are up 6.3 percent.

The State of Missouri is suffering as a result of the recession and significant budget reductions have been made.  According to legislation, the Division of Tourism should have a FY11 budget of $29 million, but budget cuts have reduced it to $13.4 million.  This has caused reductions in their Cooperative Marketing Program, which provides matching funds for approved marketing projects submitted by destination marketing organizations around the state.  For FY11, the bureau submitted leisure and convention marketing applications totaling $1,160,000 and both were approved for 50 percent funding ($580,000).  Unfortunately, the bureau will only receive $445,165 from the Division of Tourism, a cut of $134,835.  The bureau has also been notified the FY12 Cooperative Marketing Program has already been scaled back.  Instead of the ability to apply for $580,000 in matching funds, the maximum the bureau can apply for during the FY12 fiscal year is $450,000, a reduction of $130,000.  Since the maximum the bureau can apply for during FY12 has already been reduced but the FY12 budget has not been finalized, there are no guarantees the amount will not be reduced further.

Competitive Assessment Study

As previously reported, the financial crisis and the recession have caused delays or postponements of several high-profile travel and tourism projects.  Difficulty in obtaining financing caused a delay in the construction of a 150- to 200-room all-suite hotel on the former arena site owned by John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts.  City Council approved an extension of the requirement to begin construction of the hotel to April 1, 2010.  This deadline passed and another extension to the development agreement was requested.  Instead of extending the agreement, the City of Springfield, John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts, and the bureau have agreed to share the cost of a competitive assessment study to determine what Springfield needs to be competitive in the meeting and convention market.

A task force made up of representatives from all three organizations and the general public has been appointed and a Request for Proposals to conduct the competitive assessment was sent to thirteen companies.  Seven companies responded with proposals and the task force agreed to invite three companies to make formal presentations in November.  The task force will select the firm to conduct the study after the last presentation on November 17.  After the study is complete, the task force is charged with analyzing the study and making recommendations to City Council on a course of action for extension and/or revision of the development agreement.

Attraction Developments

The reopening of Wonders of Wildlife has again been postponed.  According to statements made during a recent press conference held by Mr. Rob Keck, chairman of the board of Wonders of Wildlife, the facility will be reopened in stages with the main facility and aquariums scheduled to open by the end of 2012.  Reasons for the continued delays include the complexity of the building design and the expansion of plans for the remodeling.

Tourist Information Center Construction

A board committee was appointed to evaluate the construction of the new Tourist Information Center on the southwest corner of Chestnut Expressway and U.S. 65.  After a review of the proposed project, the bureau’s financial condition, and current economic conditions, the committee agreed the construction of the center should continue on hold until the economy improves.  An extension of the lease at the current location on Battlefield and U.S. 65 was negotiated with options through March 1, 2014, giving the economy and the bureau’s fund balance time to improve. In the August board meeting, the full board agreed with the committee recommendations.  Due to the construction delay, the board also approved naming the current Tourist Information Center on Battlefield the Jim D. Morris Tourist Information Center to acknowledge Mr. Morris’ gift of $350,000 toward the cost of the land for the new Tourist Information Center on Chestnut Expressway.  Signs reflecting the name change have been installed.

Board and Staff Changes

There were several board and staff changes during the first quarter.  Ms. Paula Frazier with Bass Pro Shops resigned from the board to relocate to Tulsa.  Mayor Jim O’Neal appointed Mr. Mickey Black, general manager of Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, as her replacement.

A replacement for Ms. June Lammers, convention sales manager who resigned in July, was hired during the first quarter.  Ms. Melissa Evans, former director of sales for Stonebridge in Branson, began her employment with the bureau in October.  Ms. Patty Becraft, director of administration/operations, submitted her resignation in September to start her own real estate and IT company.  Ms. Colleen Hargis was hired as her replacement and began her employment in October.  Ms. Hargis has extensive accounting and IT experience.  The search continues for a replacement of Melissa Divincen as assistant director of the Sports Commission.  Ms. Divincen was promoted to partner development manager for the bureau.

A staff retreat was held in September to finalize a new corporate culture for the bureau.  Patterned after the corporate culture of Netflix, the culture is based on freedom and responsibility with the standard of employing and developing high performance individuals throughout the organization.

Other Activities

Other general activity of the bureau staff during the first quarter included hosting a meeting and luncheon for bureau past chairmen, attending the Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership Visit of Springfield, and participating on the Arts, Culture, and Tourism Committee as part of the City of Springfield’s strategic plan development.

Bureau administrative staff continues to represent the bureau on the Springfield Hotel/Motel Association; Greater Springfield Area Sports Commission; the Urban Districts Alliance; the Missouri Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus; Missouri Division of Tourism’s Public Relations and Cooperative Marketing committees; Bass Pro Shops Fitness Festival; Partnership for Sustainability; Springfield Missouri Employers Committee; Travel & Tourism Research Association; Ozarks Area Postal Council; International Association of Administrative Professionals; and the Missouri Travel Council.

Click Here for the Marketing Department Report.

Click Here for the Sales Department Report.

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Tracy Kimberlin is the President & CEO of the Springfield, Missouri, Convention & Visitors Bureau

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