Hotel demand in Dayton market is making a comeback

Credit: Cory Frolik

Credit: Cory Frolik

Hotel occupancy fell to record lows during the coronavirus crisis, and hotel and motel operators in Ohio lost about $1.9 billion in room revenue in 2020 and 2021, said Joe Savarise, president and CEO of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association.

The annual occupancy rate for hotels and motels in the Dayton market was 55.8% for 2021, which was up from 41.8% in 2020, but down from 64.1% in pre-pandemic 2019, Savarise said.

Leisure travel spiked in the summer and fall of 2021, partly reflecting pent-up demand, Savarise said. But that is unlikely to last indefinitely, business travel still isn’t back to normal, and some large events that were cancelled or postponed due to COVID have yet to return.

“The major investment happening in the Dayton Convention Center is historic and a tipping point that will make the entire region an even bigger hub of business, meetings and tourism,” he said.

The Dayton Convention Center is undergoing millions of dollars in renovations, and a master plan for the facility calls for as much as $32 million in property improvements.

The convention center needs quality accommodations within walking distance to compete for events, particularly from non-local groups, said Pam Plageman, executive director of the Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority.

Two new hotels are under construction within about 1.2 miles of the convention center — the Hotel Ardent, part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton and the AC Hotel by Marriott.

They will add about 254 new hotel rooms, and new hotel product also is planned for the nearby Dayton Arcade.

But Plageman said there is still need for more quality hotel rooms.

Convention centers like Dayton’s size could use about 500 to 700 rooms either connected to the facility or within a several-block walk, said Jacquelyn Powell, president and CEO of the Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The current inventory, however, is only about 385 rooms, she said, and some are not available for convention and group blocks.

“Meeting and event planners will often select locations where they can accommodate the event attendees ‘under one roof’ or where they are not required to provide transportation to/from a convention facility,” she said.

The vibrancy of the central business district continues to build and bolster tourism, she said, thanks to amenities like the Dayton Levitt Pavilion, development of the riverfront, the 2nd Street Market, the rehab of the Dayton Arcade, popular performing and visual arts venues and unique independent restaurants and shopping options.

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