Edmond Convention and Visitors Bureau is about to get a new arrow in their quill. Work is progressing rapidly on Edmond’s $37 million Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center located on the northwest corner of Covell Road and I-35. By the end of this year, the hotel and conference center will be operational and booking conferences. This is something Edmond has needed for years with the over-used and aging ballroom in the Nigh University Center on the University of Central Oklahoma campus no longer able to accommodate the size and demands of our rapidly growing community.
Gabby Trad, President and Operating Manager of Partners in Hospitality, reported to the Edmond Economic Development Authority trustees this week that they had $500,000 in reservations on the books even before moving into the facility. This is a good indication of the pent-up demand for the hotel and conference center concept in Edmond.
The strategy will work and the facility is fantastic. The 10,000-square-foot hotel ballroom is the second largest in the state and will hold up to 1,000 people. The 100,000-square-foot Hilton Garden Inn will have 158 rooms. The conference center boasts 20,000 square feet and is perfect for small and medium-sized conferences and conventions. I have heard concerns that the conference center is associated with a “value-brand” hotel and not coupled with a “full-service” flagship brand. The obvious concern is that the value-branded hotel (Hilton Garden Inn) may not have the same amenity package as full-service hotels with their restaurants and spas to satisfy conference attendees.
As I travel, I have witnessed the trend to couple the value-branded hotel in the chain’s portfolio with convention centers, particularity in smaller markets such as Edmond. I actually think it is a novel approach from the industry to satisfy the need for accommodations with convention space. The size of conferences and conventions that are likely to book in smaller venues are likely to be price-sensitive and this creates a neat little niche for planners of events such as weddings, reunions, and company parties to fit within their budget and yet stay in Edmond.
Dr. J. David Chapman is an Associate Professor of Finance & Real Estate at UCO. [email protected]