Convention business

Our view : Bringing conventions to city takes hotels and more

July 27, 2008

It's a promising start: 451,608 room nights in Baltimore hotels booked through 2017, business attributed in large part to that shiny new convention center hotel at the corner of Pratt and Paca streets. That's the assessment of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, which booked the hotel stays during a 12-month period that ended June 30. They should improve Baltimore's bottom line.

Not only do these room nights translate into convention center business and companion stays at other area hotels, but robust bookings at the 757-room Hilton Baltimore should make good on city development officials' promise that the city-owned hotel could pay for itself. That was a key selling point when the Baltimore Development Corp pushed to build a $301 million convention headquarters hotel, a project we cautiously supported.

But one year's bookings must be followed with consistent, ambitious and clever marketing of the city, which translates into sales.

The fight to build a convention headquarters hotel turned on winning larger, more lucrative convention business. Now, the city has one. Let's hope the Hilton Baltimore's Aug. 22 opening will be the start of something big.

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