Wave of conventions set to pack Miami-Dade hotels
By Rachel Tannenbaum
After a massive Orange Bowl influx kicks off the year, another wave of meetings, conventions and events is about to flood South Florida with visitors, packing hotel rooms.
Among the largest, 20,000 graphics professionals will attend a three-day show that's returning to Miami Beach after migrating to Orlando, and Wrestle Mania 28 is expected to bring 40,000 visitors to three venues.
Smith Travel Research ranked Miami-Dade fourth nationally in 2011 in hotel markets in occupancy, rates and revenue per rooms available, and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau expects occupancy in 2012 to remain high, spurred in part by upcoming conventions.
From January to October, Miami hotel occupancy rose 8.1% from 2010 to 75.8%, trailing only San Francisco at 80.8%, Oahu Island at 81.1% and New York at 81.2%, according to Smith Travel. Conventions and meetings play a significant role in that growth.
Miami also ranked fourth with in revenue per available room, up 13.9% from 2010 to 2011.
"Miami is doing terrific right now and it is exciting to move forward," said Ita Moriarty, convention bureau senior vice president. "These conventions impact hotels spending, restaurants, dining and retail."
The beginning of 2012 will see a number of conventions — some returning and some rotating sites — that will increase the economic impact on Miami, she said.
To gauge economic impact, the bureau assesses such factors as lodging, hotel food and beverage, non-hotel food and beverage, tours and sightseeing, recreation, sporting events, retail, local transportation, auto rental, gas, tolls and parking, said Bill Anderson, bureau planning and research director.
"Miami constantly shows up as a top city in figures," Ms. Moriarty said. "We have beaten a lot of hotel forecast in 2011."
With the new year, she said, will come a number of conventions, starting with the American Fence Association Jan. 25-27, with a $4.7 million impact. The Market America World Conference at AmericanAirlines Arena Jan. 31-Feb. 4, she said, will yield $1.7 million in impact.
"Not all the big conventions take place on the Beach," Ms. Moriarty said. "Many take place downtown, which helps the restaurants and hotels."
When it comes to hotel rates, Smith Travel ranked Miami fourth, at $150.79 from January to October, up 5.5% from 2010. The numbers are averaged per night over a ten-month period, Mr. Anderson said.
"The repeat events do fabulous every year. The hotels look forward to it," Ms. Moriarty said.
The Printing Association of Florida, coming March 1-3, has been convening in Orlando but is returning this year to its former base at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Ms. Moriarty said 20,000 people will attend, with a $6.9 million impact. The association itself forecasts visits by 9,800 printers, designers and creative professionals from throughout the Americas.
"Without a doubt, the hotels will be very busy from these conventions," Ms. Moriarty said.
Wrestle Mania 28, to be held simultaneously in three sites April 1 — AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami Beach Convention Center and Sun Life Stadium — is expected to bring 40,000-plus fans with over $10 million in hotel revenue, Ms. Moriarty said.
"It is like a mini-Superbowl," Ms. Moriarty said. "It will be crazy."
A Mary Kay, Inc. convention downtown March 29-31 is expected to draw 2,000 attendees with a $2.7 million impact. The April 16-18 American Association of Neurosurgeons convention is forecast at $5.7 million impact.
"The first quarter of 2012 will be solid," Ms. Moriarty said. "We are anticipating great figures."
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