In 2012 lodging tax receipts were an all-time high bringing in over $1.3 million dollars to our community. Through the first half of 2013 lodging tax collection is 5% ahead of 2012. The Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center is an important part of this success hosting events that generate economic impact for our community.
The Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center (NWGTCC) has been a fixture in the community for 20+ years providing a venue for local meetings, weddings, graduations, and Quinceaneras to name a few. The NWGTCC is more than a community facility however. It also hosts meetings that bring visitors that spend money in local businesses. Examples of these include faith based meetings, consumer shows, and sporting events.
Typically convention centers across the nation require funding to off-set operating expenses. The NWGTCC is no exception; and this topic has been discussed publicly at length. Since management of the NWGTCC has returned to local oversight, a new direction is being taken to grow the business base and reduce operating loss.
In 2012 a feasibility study revealed many weekdays were available at the NWGTCC while weekends were solid. The market segment that typically meets during weekdays is the convention market. Conventions typically meet early in the week and blend well with the current weekend business at the NWGTCC.
Conventions will provide income for the NWGTCC through meeting room rental, food and beverage, and ancillary services. Convention groups typically schedule their meetings more than 18 months in advance. As convention groups are booked it will provide a “backlog” of business at the beginning of each year.
A typical convention can produce between $10,000 and $30,000 net profit to the NWGTCC. In the past the NWGTCC has hosted a handful of conventions. By significantly increasing that number it will provide a good return and reduce funding needed from the city and county.
Actions to address this strategy include hiring two full time sales staff to pursue business exclusively for the NWGTCC. One sales person will focus on the convention market while the other will focus on smaller groups that will “fill” around the conventions.
As an additional and very important benefit of attaining the convention business are the hotel nights generated. The nature of conventions is such that most attendees are from out of town helping to fuel our lodging tax.
The new direction for the NWGTCC will complement the exciting partnership with Dalton State College Basketball starting this year. It will also work well alongside the local weddings, meetings, graduations, and consumer shows scheduled for the future. It is a plan to sustain the NWGTCC heading into its next 20 years.