I’m writing to express my views about the importance of a quality convention center hotel to Portland, Oregon and to encourage you to move forward in securing a large headquarters hotel.
I am the Director of General Assembly and Conference Services for the Unitarian Universalist Association and a member of the Portland Customer Advisory Board (CAB). Our General Assembly of 5700 attendees met in Portland in 2007, and will be returning in June of 2015.
Portland has many attributes as a convention city. Along with being an attractive destination which includes an enlightened environmental awareness, Portland offers great value, an outstanding convention center, wonderful dining options, and a competent and professional hospitality community.
In some very important areas, however, Portland lags behind competing cities. The hotels closest to the center are entirely inadequate to house our dignitaries and provide the quality of banquet functions we include in our program.
This lack of a headquarters hotel adjacent or connected to the center is a glaring weakness. While there are many small hotels, they are spread out and require a significant number of contracts and monitoring, and vary in quality.
At our recent CAB meeting, we were given an update on the current status of the convention headquarters hotel project. The development and construction of a major convention center hotel is critical to the ability of Portland to successfully compete in the convention market. This can not be stressed enough. Without this hotel, Portland is limited in its ability to attract large conventions.
In addition to a 600 room convention center hotel which will serve as the cornerstone, the Lloyd Center area needs some development in order to make it a more attractive area for visitors – a destination comparable to downtown. With the advent of a headquarter hotel, restaurants, bars, and retail would surely follow.
Portland must continue to provide transportation options for convention attendees through the free light rail program. The Max worked beautifully for our meeting in 2007, as our hotel block was split between downtown and Lloyd Center. I do not think that would have been the case if it had not been free.
I strongly support the development of a convention center headquarters hotel, and I urge the city’s decision-makers to move forward on this project.
Janiece J. Sneegas, Ph.D.
Director, General Assembly and Conference Services