The Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau held its 32nd annual meeting and dinner at the Saratoga Springs City Center in March where the organization highlighted the successes of 2016, reviewed initiatives for 2017 and welcomed new members to its board of directors and Executive Committee.
Successes were listed in the 2016 annual report. It showed that the convention/group business continued to grow throughout 2016. More corporate group, sports and wedding leads and associations signed multi-year contracts again in 2016.
The year saw 627 events hosted, compared to 422 in 2015. Those events resulted in 90,908 room nights, up 11.8 percent from 2015. The estimated economic impact of those figures was $57 million last year, compared to $45 million in 2015.
The report said the group market contributes one in five room nights in Saratoga Springs.
Recognized at the dinner were those elected to serve on the Executive Committee for 2017-18. They are Cindy Hollowood, chairperson, Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs; Thomas Newkirk, immediate past chairperson, Saratoga National Golf Club; AJ Bodden, incoming chairperson, Townsquare Media Group; Marianne Barker, treasurer, Impressions of Saratoga; and Robert Berrey, at-large officer, The Gideon Putnam.
Elected to serve three-year terms on the board of directors were Amy Smith, Saratoga Arms; Tom Wiedmayer, Saratoga Casino Hotel; Elizabeth Sobol, Saratoga Performing Arts Center; Steve Grasso, GlobalFoundries; Ryan McFadden, Henry St. Taproom; Carmine DeCrescente III, DeCrescente Distributing Co.; Jasper Alexander, Hattie’s Restaurant; and Sean Willcoxon, Mazzone Hospitality.
Continuing to serve on the board of directors are Megan Hennessey, Courtyard by Marriott Saratoga Springs; Paul Calhoun, Skidmore College; Joshua Cupp, Thirsty Owl; Matthew D’Abate, Adirondack Trust Co. Financial Services Inc.; Dan Fortier, Embassy Suites by Hilton Saratoga Springs,; Todd Shimkus, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce; and Ryan McMahon, Saratoga Springs City Center.
The bureau recognized three 2016 Hometown Ambassadors, given to local people who brought their convention/event to Saratoga. The honorees were Nancy Trimbur, Soroptimist International of the Americas; Cassandra Latour, Association of YMCA Professionals; and Jeff and Becky King, National Holstein Association.
Honored as bureau Volunteers of the Year were Leonard DiLisio and Karen Longobardi for their service at the Saratoga Heritage Area Visitors Center and with the Convention Services team.
Kathy Price, bureau office manager and executive assistant, was recognized for 30 years of service. Todd Garofano, bureau president, called Price the “glue who keeps us all together and the operation running smoothly.”
Other information from the 2016 annual report showed Saratoga Springs had a hotel occupancy rate last year of 65.6 percent, compared to 70.3 percent rate the previous year. Demand for the rooms was listed at 40,896, down 2 percent from 439,738. Saratoga County had an occupancy rate in 2016 of 62.2 percent, compared to a 68.9 percent rate the previous year. Demand for the rooms was listed at 705,607, down 2.3 percent from 722,484.
Resulting revenue was $70.3 million in the city, down 1 percent from $71.1 million in 2015. For Saratoga Country, resulting revenue was $104.6 million, down 1.5 percent from $106.3 million the previous year.
The report included website statistics for DiscoverSaratoga.org that showed 102 percent growth in website visits from 2016 to 2015, a 106 percent growth in unique visitors, 123 percent growth in page views and 387 more website visits per/day in 2016 versus 2015.
Saratoga Springs Heritage and Visitor Center on Broadway saw activity go up 19.9 percent. That comes from various categories including visitors, phone inquiries, tours, concert series and on-site functions, according to the report.
Other highlights the report listed included:
• The 18th annual Chowderfest had 90-plus vendors and 40,000 people on the streets, which were all-time records. It resulted in approximately 350-plus room nights.
• Saratoga Springs Frozen Pond Hockey Classic was cancelled in 2016 due to warm weather. It came back strong in 2017 with 85 teams from seven states and Canada competing over two-and-a-half days at Saratoga Spa State Park.
• Saratoga’s sixth annual Beer Week brought hundreds of beer industry professionals and fans from around the country to sample, educate and release new products. It creates 400-plus room nights.
The report also listed some concerns for the bureau going forward. Among those items was competition coming from the new Albany Capital Center, the Schenectady Casino Hotel, the Lake George Hotel & Conference Center and new hotels planned throughout the region that will be competing for occupancy share. Parking in the city was also listed as a problem. While there is a new parking garage in the works, it is not yet under construction and puts the bureau at a competitive disadvantage.
The bureau also reported that membership reached an all-time high in 2016, jumping by 4.2 percent to 501 total members.
To view the report, visit discoversaratoga.org/annual-report.
Sponsors for the dinner included Saratoga Springs City Center, Mazzone Hospitality, CMI Audio Visual, Spa City Duo, Posie Peddler, Imagine That Marketing & Communications, Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, Capital Interiorscapes, Frozen Moments In and Around Saratoga, Adirondack Trust Co., The Gideon Putnam, Saratoga Casino Hotel, Courtyard by Marriott Saratoga Springs, Saratoga’s Community Federal Credit Union, Clements Insurance Agency and New York By Rail.
For information on how to schedule or plan a meeting, conference, wedding or special event, visit www.discoversaratoga.org.