Local News

Raleigh hotel shortage could keep conventions away from downtown

Posted October 27, 2015 7:47 p.m. EDT
Updated October 28, 2015 6:31 p.m. EDT

— 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.”