Columbia hotels lose business in the snow

Room vacancies and cancellations hurt the industry.
Sunday, December 3, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:12 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

While hotel rooms in some parts of the state rapidly filled with travelers stranded by last week’s storms, some Columbia hotels lost business as a result of the snow.

Stoney Creek Inn, 2601 S. Providence Road, expected to host 175 visitors for the Missouri School Health Conference on Thursday and Friday, but the event was canceled because of the storm warning. Laura Steiner, the executive director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she estimates the cancellation cost the hotel and Columbia shops and restaurants a combined $50,000 to $70,000.

“It’s a fairly substantial loss,” said Steiner, whose husband works as a meeting planner and contracted the health conference. “Once a room is gone, once it’s not used, it can’t be recaptured. It’s not like a product sitting on your shelf. It’s very perishable.”

Nick Patel, manager of Super 7 Motel, 1306 Range Line St., estimated that only about a quarter of the motel’s rooms were filled Friday night. On an average Friday, about 65 percent of the rooms would be occupied, he said.

The economic impact of canceled meetings and conferences extends beyond the hotel lobby.

“You lose the hotel rooms that the conferences would have used, banquet revenue, vendor revenue,” Steiner said. “But probably equally important, you lose the local retail expenditures — restaurants, gas stations, drugstores, grocery stores and shopping centers. The No. 1 visitor activity is shopping, and that doesn’t change when someone’s attending a conference.”

Not every hotel lost business because of the storm, however; The Holiday Inn Select, 2200 I-70 Drive S.W., sold out its rooms to seven snowed-in visting sports teams.

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