The Beachwood Chamber of Commerce is asking Beachwood City Council for $150,000 to operate a new Convention and Visitor Bureau that will market and promote Beachwood as a destination for convention attendees and leisure tourists and visitors.
For more than 90 minutes, Beachwood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Wayne Lawrence gave a formal presentation and answered questions during a city council special meeting Monday evening.
Lawrence said the proposed Beachwood Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) would focus on marketing the city as a destination spot primarily for a secondary convention market of “social, military, educational, religious and fraternal” SMERF groups.
“Those are organizations that are smaller in nature and can typically draw two to 500 visitors or attendees…for conventions,” said Lawrence. “And there a lot of them (SMERF groups) so you can typically go after that (market) as well as the leisure and sports markets. When you think about all of the great things that the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission has done in this market and how many people have stayed in Beachwood because of (its efforts), this really building upon that activity.”
By attracting more “heads in the beds” at Beachwood hotels, Lawrence said, it could have a significant economic impact for the city.
“In terms of economic impact, when you have a convention with exhibits, it brings in about $1,500 per (convention attendee to the market; if you have (a convention) without (exhibits) it’s about $1,100,” Lawrence said. “That’s a significant amount of dollars coming to an area.”
Additionally, a city CVB would bring in $3 for every $1 spent on marketing and promoting Beachwood, according to figures Lawrence said he got from the Ohio Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“So as you can see, it’s one of those investments you can make that you can really expect a return (on investment),” said Lawrence.
The Beachwood CVB also would work with Positively Cleveland, which promotes Greater Cleveland as a destination for conventions and tourists. Lawrence said Beachwood would attract convention attendees or tourists who may prefer to stay at a suburban hotel instead of a downtown Cleveland hotel.
Lawrence said the recent occupancy rates at Beachwood hotels shows the city needs to attract more visitors.
The occupancy rate stood at about 56 percent in 2008. In 2011, the occupancy rate remained the same at Beachwood hotels. However, in 2008 the average room rate was $101. It fell to $94 in 2011. What’s more, the city’s lodging tax also has declined by 11 percent from $767,482 in 2008 to approximately $690,000 by the end of 2011.
To support the operations of Beachwood’s CVB, Lawrence asked city council for $150,000 annually that would come from the city’s lodging tax fund.
“I think your plan is sound. I agree in principle with most of what you had to present tonight,” Beachwood City Council Member Frederic S. Goodman told Lawrence.
Although other council members thought the CVB is a good idea, they had a lot of questions about how the new organization would operate. City Council agreed to refer the proposal to its economic development and finance committees for further review.
Lawrence said the Beachwood Chamber of Commerce is ready to launch the CVB in April if they secure the financial commitment from city council.
In other city council discussions:
- City Council discussed making some changes to a new zoning classification for planned multi-family residential projects. It was originally proposed that there would be no limitation to the number of studio apartments and one-bedroom apartments for a planned multi-family residential project. City council is considering that the combined total of studio and one-bedroom units not exceed 50 percent of the total number of dwelling units in a planned multi-family residential project
- City council members said they are not ready to sign Cuyahoga County’s “anti-poaching” protocol agreement in which municipalities would not be allowed to pursue businesses from other cities in the county.
- City Council also reviewed possible zoning issues regarding land at 2746 Richmond Road, next to Beachwood High School, which was recently purchased by the Beachwood City School Board. Part of the purchased land, currently zoned residential, cannot be rezoned institutional for the school district’s use because city code prohibits it.