Commissioner Smith, I am very pleased to be writing to you as the EVP of multiple scientific societies and also as a member of the Portland Customer Advisory Board. Prior to serving as EVP I was a certified meeting planner for fifteen years. Three years ago I was honored to receive an award presented by the mayor recognizing that our meetings had brought more than $30 million dollars to Portland.
Our meetings have been very successful in Portland because of the outstanding convention center, the transportation system, and the unique attractions of the city. Portland does an outstanding job of marketing itself and has competed very well to attract meetings. As I look at what brings us back to Portland, good value for the price, outstanding meeting and exhibit space, wonderful restaurants, and outstanding tourist opportunities we also have to balance the issues of why we don’t come to Portland more often. What is it that keeps us and our colleagues from booking more meetings in Portland? In my conversations with other organizations the primary drawback is the lack of a convention hotel at the site of the convention center. A convention hotel, which goes hand in hand with development of the area immediately around the convention center, is key to attracting more and larger meetings.
A new 600 room hotel may be perceived by some as taking potential business away from existing hotels downtown, but this is not correct. As proven by examples in many other cities, a convention hotel will bring greater business to all the properties. While exhibitors and some attendees will prefer to stay at the center many others will want to be downtown and use the transportation system. That is also why your outstanding MAX must be maintained at this outstanding level.
We all understand that a convention hotel of this size is a major investment and must be successful. But it is key to the future of convention business reaching its real potential. All the other ingredients are already in place. I predict that once the new hotel is in place that you will have groups lining up to contract it along with the center and the downtown hotels. I hope that my input is helpful to your dialogue. I would be glad to help in any way I can.
Steven C. Nelson
Executive Vice President
The American Phytopathological Society
American Society of Brewing Chemists
Master Brewers Association of the Americas
Controlled Release Society
International Society for Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions