|By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily
Bulletin, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 13, 2013--ONTARIO -- The city's hospitality market in 2012 exceeded the previous year's economic impact figures by more than $88 million, according to the Ontario Convention Center & Visitors Bureau.
And hotels in the city could be looking at even more gains as $8.2 million in upgrades have recently been completed or are underway.
The city's hospitality market benefits from a range of prices for hotel stays. This is unlike other cities that have a convention center and have a lot of competition among hotels because of a variety of choices or prices, said Michael Krouse, the bureau's president and CEO.
"Customers are very brand-oriented and hotel products become a deciding factors in bringing in their meeting here," Krouse said.
From January through November, hotel, group and meeting room occupancy was up by 3.9 percent, or by 98,424 rooms, Krouse said.
Ontario's hospitality industry also saw a significant gain last year in revenue per available room, which grew by 15.8 percent among hotels that offer business amenities and provide limited facilities.
Despite the positives, Krouse said the region's hospitality market has a great deal of ground to recover. In the past 10 years, at least six new hotels have come into the market.
"We've got a lot of supply in the market," he said. "We have to work to bring in the demand."
The hotels investment in the city is an indication of the steady economic recovery, Krouse said.
"When the economy is sluggish, they will slow down their renovations. All these renovations is a very good message for our market," he said.
DoubleTree by Hilton, which is next to the Convention Center, is among the local hotels that are making improvements. It has a bevy of new amenities such as carpeting and wallpaper as well as upgrades to meeting rooms.
"It was long overdue, and it freshens up our meeting areas. It helps us sell that space," said Todd Simons, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.
But Simons said the hotel is working to improve their clients' experience as well as compete with the many hotel options in the city.
Krouse has brought on David Goldschmidt as the senior manager of research, sales operations and market strategy to provide more economic impact data to guide Ontario.
"David's job is to ensure that we are becoming more accountable to our communities," Krouse said.
Goldschmidt was with the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board as the overseeing manager of sales operations and market development. His work included several marketing related initiatives as well as developing a three-year strategic plan for tourism.
In Ontario, Goldschmidt will be tasked with developing metrics that will help the local hotel market by identifying trends in bookings, the market and business patterns.
For continued success, Krouse said it will be incumbent upon him and his staff to bring in shows that create more overnight stays for area hotels.
"It all has a domino effect, the more people want to come here -- not just come through here -- and stay here," said Krouse, who has been with the center since September.
Reach Liset via email, call her at 909-483-8556, or find her on Twitter @DBOntarioNow.
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