My name is Nicole Guy and I am writing to you as a member of the Travel Portland Customer Advisory Board. I represent Conference Managers, a third-party meeting, conference and exhibition management firm whose clients are membership and trade associations in numerous fields, including healthcare, public health, science, finance and business. I personally represent two organizations, each of which has an annual convention that brings tremendous value to its host cities each year. Not only do these meetings provide an opportunity for 2,500 – 5,000 individuals to visit and experience the city, but the actual expenditures of the meeting and its participants easily total in the millions within a single week-long period.
I am writing today to emphasize how critical the development and construction of a major convention center hotel is to the future success of Portland as a convention destination. Portland is viewed very positively among the meeting industry in general and my clients in particular as a meeting destination city, due to its wonderful convention center, destination appeal, cost-beneficial tax structure, and top-notch hospitality community.
However, there are many ways that Portland lags significantly behind its competitors, which has prevented Portland from reaching its full potential and from booking groups that would otherwise select Portland without hesitation: a) lack of a major anchor hotel adjacent or connected to the Oregon Convention Center; b) a hotel product that is very spread out across multiple square miles; c) multiple small hotels, resulting in diluted attendee blocks and numerous contracts for a single mid-size meeting.
It is important to note that even with a new, 600-room convention center property, additional new hotels will still be required to realize Portland’s (and the Oregon Convention Center’s) full business potential. It is vital that Portland continue its laudable efforts regarding the provision of easy and inexpensive transportation options for convention attendees, including free light rail (MAX and streetcar).
Additionally, the area immediately surrounding the convention center is a detraction due to its lack of vibrancy and attractiveness. By contrast (for example), the area immediately surrounding the Washington State Convention & Trade Center is full of restaurants, stores, bars, coffee shops and other gathering places. A major convention center hotel would provide the impetus for this critical development in that area of town, and would help Portland align itself more closely with its major competitors for convention business.
With best regards,
Nicole Guy, Conference Director