News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Dawn Bryant, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 4, 2004 - Pressure from hotels has prompted the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to stop releasing lists of groups and conventions coming to town.
Faced with growing competition for a stagnant segment of the tourism market, hotels that handle groups don't want their clients' names mailed to chamber of commerce members or appearing in the newspaper.
That could tip off the competition who might try to steal that business in future years, the hoteliers said. The list has appeared in the Sunday edition of The Sun News for years.
The hotels will continue to report the groups and number of attendees to the convention bureau, so leaders can track that business and how it changes over the years. But hoteliers made bureau leaders vow not to give the list out starting last Thursday.
Keeping those lists confidential seems to be a growing trend among destinations, said Jean Ann Brakefield, the convention bureau's vice president.
"Clients are just so hard to get," she said. "People are sort of protective of it."
About five of the 20 properties that report their group business expressed concerns about the information being released, Brakefield said.
The convention bureau distributed the lists to its members and the media for at least 12 years. Some stores and restaurants used it as a tool for planning staff levels and supplies.
"It's just a sign of the times. It's a little more competitive," Brakefield said.
TOURISM TOPS IN S.C.: Tourism might bring big bucks to South Carolina, but the state barely makes the top 25 when compared with other states in traveler spending, according to rankings by the Travel Industry Association of America.
Domestic tourists spend the most in California, pumping about $59.5 billion into the state in 2001, the most recent year data is available. It is followed by $40 billion in Florida, $31 billion in Texas, $27 billion in Illinois and $19 billion in Nevada, according to TIA.
South Carolina ranked 24th with domestic tourists spending nearly $7 billion here. North Carolina grabbed the 12th spot, with $12 billion in spending. Tourists spend the least, between $1 billion and $1.3 billion, in Delaware, North Dakota and Alaska.
Tourism is South Carolina's largest industry, generating about $14 billion when considering the direct and indirect effects. The Grand Strand traditionally contributes about a third of that.
HOTEL BONDS DOWNGRADED: The first-year struggles at the Radisson Plaza Hotel have caused a downgrade in the project's uninsured bonds.
Standard & Poor's rating on $40.3 million in bonds dropped from BBB- to BB- because of the hotel's performance. That doesn't affect the city's bond rating or jeopardize the timetable on any future city projects.
With the hotel's lagging performance, the downgrade wasn't a surprise, City Spokesman Mark Kruea said. The hotel expects to end its budget year in March with a $1.2 million loss.
"It literally is a one-step downgrade," Kruea said. "For the city, it doesn't have any meaning or affect; and it doesn't affect the hotel."
The other $22.7 million of bonds the city issued to pay for the hotel at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center are insured and haven't changed from Moody's Aaa and S&P's AAA ratings.
The City Council is considering refinancing all or part of the bonds to help ease debt payments to cover the hotel's early losses. The city likely will soon decide what it will do with the next payment due April 1.
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(c) 2004, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.