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Boston Hotel Revenues Up 33% in July Compared
 to Last Year, Democratic Convention Did Help
By Keith Reed, The Boston Globe
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Aug. 26, 2004 - Business got better for Boston hotels last month, as events including the Democratic National Convention and Macworld brought plenty of guests and higher rates than local hoteliers have seen in recent years, according to a study released yesterday.

Local hotel revenue jumped about 33 percent in July, compared with the same month last year, according to the report by the Boston hospitality research firm Pinnacle Advisory Group. Hotels were about 84 percent full last month, and revenue per available room, a key measure of financial performance, jumped by 30 percent, compared with the same month last year, the report said.

City officials said the numbers confirmed that last month's Democratic National Convention, which has been maligned as a financial bust for the city, did have a positive impact. At the same time, both the city and Pinnacle acknowledge the Democrats weren't the only drivers of the July hotel boon. Conventions for lawyers and the software company SAP also brought thousands of visitors.

"It isn't just because the DNC was in town. There were also others who were in town that made it work," said Mark Maloney, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. His agency was responsible for a preconvention study that pegged the event as a $154 million economic boost. After the convention, the Beacon Hill Institute, a think tank, calculated that the convention had produced a $14.8 million gain because of lost tourism and productivity.

Matthew R. Arrants, a director at Pinnacle, said July's boost was part of a larger recovery from Boston hotels' three-year doldrums.

"It was a very strong month for conventions," he said, "and when you couple that with the fact that each month has been stronger and stronger in transient demand, we're real positive about things."

Still, hoteliers are cautious about calling it a recovery. Jose Estrompa, vice president at Saunders Hotel Group, which owns three Boston properties, said this July was much better than in the past two years, but revenue per available room remained about 13 percent lower than the average over the past decade.

The Democratic convention, which brought 35,000 people to town, did help by filling rooms for three nights, but Estrompa and other hoteliers had hoped for five sellout nights. But some rooms remained empty because of delegates checking in a day late and checking out a day early.

"We tried to promote them at a discount, but you know, nobody was coming into town," Estrompa said.

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