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The Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva-on-the-Lake Bucks the National
Hospitality Business Trend with Increases in All Key Performance Indicators

By Carl E. Feather, Star Beacon, Ashtabula, OhioMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Nov. 03, 2010--GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE -- As part of the sector leading defaults in commercial real estate, the Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva-on-the-Lake is an anomaly.

Since 2005, the lodge has posted increases in industry key indicators of performance, said Deb Collins, vice president of sales and marketing for Delaware North Cos., of Buffalo, N.Y., which has managed the lodge for Ashtabula County since inception. While the recession reduced hospitality industry revenues, the lodge not only is weathering the recession well, but also is on track to post figures that are well above the plan its management presented to county commissioners last year.

"We're really excited. We feel very good about where we're going as we finish this year," lodge general manager Jeannette Petrolia told commissioners during a special work session at the lodge Tuesday afternoon.

Collins and several other executives from Delaware North and YPartnership, the advertising agency that represents the lodge, presented a "state of the lodge" and industry report to the commissioners and members of the Convention Facilities Authority (CFA) during the session. Each presenter addressed a different aspect of the lodge's operation, but across the board, the message was upbeat and one of success for the hotel, which opened in 2004.

"Geneva consistently outperforms the national and regional markets," Collins said.

In three key metrics -- rooms sold, average daily rate (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) -- the lodge has posted annual increases since its first full year of operation. The RevPAR, for example, posted a 7.4 percent increase over the past year, said Ken Hlavek, the lodge's director of sales and marketing. "That's significantly ahead of other markets," Hlavek said.

Key indexes, which measure how much of the market share the lodge captures, are consistently above 100 percent, showing that the lodge is capturing more than its fair share of the hospitality business.

The lodge's strong numbers also stand up when measured against other Ohio State Park lodges, which have been around for many more years. The Geneva lodge's 62.8 percent occupancy rate during the last 12 months is particularly impressive against the overall state average of 38.1 percent.

The statistics used for comparison look at revenue and occupancy only, not net or operating profits. The county makes the debt payments on the lodge, and those numbers are not reflected in the bottom-line numbers generated by Delaware North. Petrolia said all the industry comparisons presented during the session are valid because they look at revenue only, not the bottom line.

Nevertheless, the lodge's bottom line is improving and on track to deliver a performance much better than what was originally planned. Petrolia said the projected net profit, before debt service, is $290,000 for 2010, or 154 percent above the plan.

"We're looking really strong," she told commissioners.

Many factors, from savvy marketing to holding the line on expenses, have helped the lodge get in the black and stay there. The addition of the outdoor dining area, the Terrace Grille, last year helped increase food and beverage income and gave the lodge another revenue source for rental. The project, funded by the county bed tax, which CFA administers, generated more than $25,000 in rental revenue by giving guests a place to have wedding breakfasts, receptions and rehearsal dinners.

The 2011 plan Petrolia presented to commissioners projects continued growth in all areas. Net profit is expected to grow by 13 percent, operating profit by 6 percent and revenues by 7 percent. Occupancy is expected to increase by 4 percent.

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To see more of the Star Beacon or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.starbeacon.com/.

Copyright (c) 2010, Star Beacon, Ashtabula, Ohio

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