New hotel would raise ailing convention business, official says

WCPO file photo of the former Millennium Hotel in downtown Cincinnati.
Posted at 5:41 PM, Apr 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-30 19:28:50-04

CINCINNATI — A new convention center hotel is just what Cincinnati needs to give its ailing convention business a shot in the arm, an official says.

A new hotel would mean more and bigger conventions that have been bypassing Cincinnati, says Julie Calvert, President and CEO of the CincinnatiUSA Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

“Because we’ve had challenges with our headquarter hotel, our group sizes have been declining over the past several years,” Calvert told WCPO.

Civic leaders have long complained about conditions at the Millennium Hotel a block east of the convention center and they are now moving forward with plans for an upscale hotel with a minimum of 600 rooms a block south of it. A group including the city, the county, CVB, The Port and Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) announced plans Monday to pick a developer.

“Whereas, for years, we would consider a hotel on peak room nights somewhere between 950 and 1,200 rooms per night, we are now down to 399 or close to 500 per night," Calvert said.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau says it already has large groups interested in booking conventions in Cincinnati, but it doesn’t have the hotel space to accommodate them.

It is no question it will make us more competitive, for sure. Again, there’s the different types of groups we can go after now with a bigger hotel,” Calvert said.

And the Convention and Visitors Bureau doesn’t have to wait until a new hotel is built to start booking conventions for it.

“Conventions that we’re booking today wouldn’t be meeting here anyway until 2023, 2024. So, we’re right in that sweet spot that we need to be to start to really accelerate the growth,” she said.

A new convention center hotel will also be good for other hotels nearby, Calvert said.

“It’s going to raise everybody’s level, for sure. We’ll get higher hotel rates, larger occupancies, bigger convention groups that are coming in to Cincinnati,” she said.

The Millennium Hotel said in a statement it is willing to work with city leaders to support the quote “long term vision and vitality of Cincinnati.”