Local News

Raleigh hotel shortage could keep conventions away from downtown

Posted October 27, 2015
Updated October 28, 2015

— Hundreds of people from across the state were in Raleigh for the education conference, which has been held at the Raleigh Convention Center for five of the last nine years.

Organizers said the conference may look elsewhere next year, all because of a hotel shortage that left attendees scrambling for places to stay.

Kathy Davis said she typically enjoys holding the annual 300-person educational conference downtown, but says this past convention was not the most enjoyable.

Instead of a smooth start, dozens of people found themselves unable to check into their hotel rooms. Managers at the downtown Raleigh Sheraton told guests that the hotel was overbooked.

“You don’t want to be sitting in a lobby for six or seven hours waiting for your room to open up,” Davis said. “Your accommodations at a hotel are really critical.”

City leaders say they have been studying the hotel room shortage extensively for months.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of this happening in Raleigh, but I think it’s a sign of the times, and I think it’s going to continue,” said Raleigh City Council member, John Odom.

Odom said he has been pushing for a new downtown hotel for eight years and wants to offer additional incentives to hoteliers. He said the money would come from the inter-local fund, a pot shared by the city and the county.

“Right now’s a critical time to really start palling and talking about it,” Odom said.

Construction will begin shortly on a new 175 room hotel across the street from the convention center, but a new study shows 400 new rooms are already presently needed in downtown

Davis said she hopes the city will use what happened at the conference as a learning experience.

“We never have to sell coming to Raleigh,” Davis said. “But you can’t bring people here if you don’t have hotels.”


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  • Will Lane Oct 28, 2015
    user avatar

    I am in full agreement that more hotel rooms are needed in the downtown area to fully take advantage of the space in the RCC, however the issues described here are not due to a lack of rooms but confusion between the hotel(s) and the meeting planners for a given convention.

    Hotels being overbooked / sold happens in every major convention market, it isn't really a shortage of rooms thing so much as a planning / scheduling thing. Be sure you are working with a competent meeting planner to mitigate these issues.

  • Johnny Friedrich Oct 28, 2015
    user avatar

    I have lived in Raleigh for 20 years. I remember hotels offering there own incentives to build in places downtown, North Hills, and around the PNC Arena. Raleigh city council for what most felt were small reasons denied about every plan to build a hotel about 5-10 years ago. That is why there is a hotel on the SAS campus, at North Hills and no where else. They are privately supported. Hotel chains basically said sorry we are not offering to build any more unless you do something for us now. We gave you a chance and you did not take it. Hotels gave Raleigh the chance but they did not take it so they did not build. Now Raleigh has to kiss up to them now to bring them back. Slowly that is happening but your major large hotels are stills staying away. It is interesting when you have lived in Raleigh long enough to know the history of behind this.

  • Charles Boyer Oct 28, 2015
    user avatar

    It's starting to sound like the city is running a PR campaign to offer major incentives to bring in more hotels. Raleigh has a lot of needs -- and handing out money to private companies should not be one of them.

  • Tom Laurence Oct 28, 2015
    user avatar

    Oh, Poor, Poor Raleigh. The officials are way too busy hurting and trying to run off small businesses, and measure how far a chair is close to a curb to deal with real issues. The Cocky mayor, her Royal Duchess of Parking, and her kronies will get put in line one day.