The numbers for 2015 are in (see below) and not only was it a good year for Springfield’s lodging industry, it was a record year!
Room sales passed the $100 million mark for the first time ever and average daily rate topped out at $79.47, another record for the city.
“Last year was the second consecutive year of records for Springfield's hotel and travel industry and 2016 could be the third,” said Tracy Kimberlin, president/CEO of the Convention & Visitors Bureau, a nonprofit marketing agency dedicating to boosting the local economy through growth in travel and tourism.
Those statistics and more good news will be shared with nearly 250 people at the Salute to Travel & Tourism awards banquet and annual meeting of the Convention & Visitors Bureau that begins at 6 p.m. today at The Old Glass Place.
Along with record numbers for the lodging industry, the CVB will celebrate highlights of year, including the following:
- The CVB launched a new brand, communications strategy and logo and has spent the last year launching the new brand to visitors and the local community.
- The bureau redesigned its website, which saw a record of more than 1 million unique visitor sessions in 2015.
- In partnership with the Missouri Division of Tourism and Brand USA, the CVB launched a marketing campaign targeting Canadian travelers at www.VisitTheUSA.com. The integrated campaign includes videos and information about things to see and do in Springfield.
- The bureau’s Discover SGF program continued growing. The program is designed to educate frontline employees about Springfield’s amenities so they can tell visitors about the city. The program now boasts nine videos and more than 350 active members.
- A marketing campaign targeting meeting planners was launched in an effort to entice groups the city. The campaign included e-blasts to more than 26,000 planners and a printed newsletter to 2,500. A direct mail video player featuring testimonials from people who have hosted events in Springfield will be mailed to 250 targeted planners.
- A record of more than 9,100 people representing 39 countries visited the Route 66 Information Center.
- The city’s hotel industry has improved with the addition of new properties and renovation of others. New to the city in 2015 are Hotel Vandivort, Hampton Inn & Suites and TownPlace Suites. Renovations have improved Ramada Plaza Hotel & Oasis Convention Center, University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center and others. Additional meeting space and a Fairfield Inn are planned at DoubleTree Hotel Springfield and more hotels are expected to update properties soon.
- The museum and aquarium adjacent to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World will open this year.
The CVB also will present its travel and tourism awards. The Pinnacle Award recipient remains secret until the event. Other awards being presented include:
- The Hospitality Award goes to Ramada Plaza Hotel & Oasis Convention Center. This award is presented to an attraction, lodging facility or restaurant which demonstrates outstanding hospitality to the traveling public and exhibits a team spirit in promoting growth of Springfield area travel and tourism.
- The Diplomat Award will go to U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. This award is presented to a government official, organization or employee who has provided significant support to the Springfield area travel industry.
- The Spotlight Award is presented to an individual, business or organization not usually considered part of the travel and tourism industry for noteworthy contributions in advancing travel and tourism in the Springfield area. The award will go to David Eslick, a founding member of the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival.
- The Ambassador Award will go to Kirk Hansen, public relations director at Fantastic Caverns. This award is presented to individuals or organizations who generated significant economic impact for the area by working to encourage tourism or secure a major convention or event in Springfield.
- The John & Mary Williams Volunteer of the Year Award will be presented to Clarlene Stewart, a five-year volunteer for the CVB.
- Decade of Service Awards will be presented to Harold and Mary Peterson.
- Mary Williams, one of the first volunteers to begin serving the bureau, will be honored for 25 years of service.