Kansas City last year tallied record hotel revenues and its highest hotel occupancy rate in 17 years. Its meeting bookings were the best in 10 years. It’s popping up on national “best of” lists for food, millennials, technology and many other measures.
But don’t get complacent, warned Ronnie Burt, president and chief executive of Visit KC, the area’s convention and tourism marketing agency, at its annual meeting Tuesday at the Sprint Center.
He and other speakers rallied the crowd of about 500 to use the Twitter tag of #IgniteKC to promote the city.
Burt appealed to residents to promote Kansas City as a meeting destination for their companies, industries, professional and social organizations. He said Visit KC’s six sales people work hard but can use all the personal and social media outreach that the city’s population can provide.
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The education sector was the single largest source of Kansas City’s convention business, providing 25 percent of the trade, following by sports, 21 percent; religion, 17 percent; business and trade, 8 percent; fraternal and social groups, 7 percent; and 22 percent classified as “other.”
Burt summarized recent Visit KC successes, including relocating its office to a visible storefront location in the downtown Power & Light District at 1321 Baltimore. He also complimented the city’s reinvigorated Kansas City Film and New Media Office and noted that the arts in general are an increasingly important lure for visitors and business.
The city’s 25 largest conventions this year are projected to have a $126 million economic impact, with 119,000 attendees using 165,817 room nights.
“That’s big business for Kansas City,” Burt said.
In keeping with his appeal for collaborative marketing, Burt announced a new Hospitality Alliance composed of CEOs of relevant organizations: Oscar McGaskey Jr., Kansas City Convention & Entertainment Facilities; Shannon Hickey, the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association; Bud Nicol, Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Kansas City; Kathy Nelson, the Kansas City Sports Commission; Brenda Tinnen, Sprint Center; and himself.
Other speakers included Tinnen, who is serving as chair of the Visit KC board of directors; Kansas City Mayor Sly James, and a panel of specialists in public relations, design, social media and marketing who discussed Kansas City’s assets and challenges in moving its convention and tourism industry forward.