Posted: Monday, July 13, 2015 6:07 pm
ATLANTIC CITY — Hotel bookings and the number of conventions continue their upward trend this year as Atlantic City pursues more corporate business to offset a series of casino closings in 2014 that jolted the local economy.
Meet AC, the private, nonprofit organization that promotes the city as a corporate-meetings destination, reported Monday that the number of convention-related hotel bookings has jumped 37 percent through the first six months of 2015.
More than 118,000 hotel room nights have been booked so far this year for conventions through 2022, compared to about 86,000 during the same period in 2014.
In addition, the number of conventions, trade shows and smaller events signed up from 2015 to 2020 has jumped 40 percent — 118 through the first half of 2015, compared to 84 during the same period last year, Meet AC said.
Gary Musich, vice president of sales for Meet AC, said the hotel bookings and number of events are the most important indicators of the health of Atlantic City’s convention business.
“We have a lot of events coming up in the next two years,” Musich said in a report during the Meet AC monthly board meeting Monday.
The figures suggest that Atlantic City’s corporate business is shaking off the effects of the closings of the Atlantic Club, Showboat, Revel and Trump Plaza casinos in 2014, although, some “hesitation” is lingering in the convention market stemming from the city’s economic woes last year, Musich noted.
In addition to events at the Atlantic City Convention Center, some of the casinos are making a bigger push for more corporate business, including a $126 million conference center scheduled to open in August at Harrah’s Resort.
Atlantic City currently grabs just 1 percent of the $16 billion convention and meetings market in the northeastern United States. The city hopes to attract much more corporate business as part of its evolving strategy to become a broader-based tourist destination, including a hub for conventions and trade shows.
Jim Wood, president and CEO of Meet AC, said convention planners have begun to look at Atlantic City “a little more carefully.” One example, he said, is the previously announced signing of the Meeting Professionals International conference at the Harrah’s Resort Waterfront Conference Center in June 2016. The MPI conference, which will bring about 2,000 influential meeting planners to town, is considered the biggest coup so far.
Wood also said that a sports commission that collaborates with Meet AC is working on two major initiatives that will put Atlantic City in the spotlight. He declined to divulge more details at this time.
“It will be very, very exciting for Atlantic City,” he said.
In June, it was announced that a sports trade show called TEAMS will come to Harrah’s in September 2016, bringing with it 1,400 executives, event managers and decision-makers in the amateur sports world.