Monday, October 15, 2012

Convention Centers: A Cautionary Tale of Supply and Demand

Via Jack Bog I found this very interesting article about the glut of new convention space and the lack of any new demand for said space.  Yes there was a crash of attendance with the housing bust but in general since 2000 there has not been much new demand.

The question for convention center hotel advocates is, I suppose, does Portland have a comparative advantage in the convention business?  What makes planners confident that conventions will come and fill up those hotel beds?


GeoGeek said...

I actually think that Portland might have a comparative advantage, just because people like coming here. I offer a couple of anecdotes: OSCON (~3500 attendees) has been held here for years, every July. Fearing they were outgrowing the convention center, in 2009 they moved the conference to San Jose. Attendance fell by a third. In 2010 it came back here and has stayed ever since.

The conference (State of the Map US) I just attended this weekend quadrupled the attendance of the previous 2010 conference in Atlanta, getting the same number of attendees as the International Conference SotM conference held in Denver last year (which also coincided with another big Open Source conference, helping drive attendance up). In this case, it's difficult to distinguish the Portland factor from the "just getting more popular" factor.

Now, all of that being said, I don't see any reason why the govt should be funding another hotel.

Patrick Emerson said...

Thanks for your comment, this is exactly what I was fishing for. I was about to speculate in the post about Portland's comparative advantage, but it was not at all obvious to me which way it cuts. Seems like we are a loser compared to SF, SD, Denver, etc. But we have our charms and, in the summer, great weather. But a Portland convention in March? Maybe not so much.

Fauskin said...

I have to agree with both statements here. My feeling is opposite of the graph having been living between Los Angeles and San Diego my whole life. But who wouldn't want to turn the event into a vacation when heading to Las Vegas or southern California?