Suddenly, 2018 isn’t looking as bad for central Indiana hotels as it was just a few months ago.
In February, Visit Indy was projecting about 677,000 hotel rooms would be booked in 2018. Now that number is tracking near 715,000, just below the 725,000 target the city has set for itself.
Visit Indy CEO Leonard Hoops told the city’s Capital Improvement Board at its April 14 meeting that a couple of major convention bookings have boosted the 2018 projection.
Despite the improving forecast, Hoops warned that hotel bookings in 2018 will still be well off the numbers for 2016 and 2017, adding that “2018 is no longer forecasted as a year where we will fall off the cliff. We’ve really been focused on 2018, and we’re pleased with what’s been accomplished.”
Hoops told IBJ that Visit Indy continues to sell for 2018 and the 725,000 mark—or even higher—is within reach. Meeting planners, however, said most large and mid-size conventions and corporate gatherings already have their plans set for next year.
Visit Indy recently booked the Gospel Coalition, an event that will bring 8,500 attendees here next June and use nearly 5,300 hotel room nights. It also booked the American Society for Microbiology next November that will draw 4,200 attendees and use 9,200 hotel room nights. Hoops added that several smaller gatherings—by local hotels and Visit Indy—also have been booked in recent weeks.
Hotel bookings in 2018 are still likely to be at a five-year low. Bookings in 2014 were 743,956 and climbed to 731,300 the next year, then a record 822,654 in 2016. Hotel bookings this year are projected to top 820,000, Hoops said.•