MCCA: Hotel Boom Leaving Convention Centers Out In Cold

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
October 6, 2016

mccaHotels from Braintree to Woburn filled up in June with more than 12,000 visitors for the American Society of Microbiology’s annual meeting at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

It’ll be more of the same in November when the BCEC hosts Inbound 2016, HubSpot’s annual marketing conference, with reservations booked at more than 35 hotels in the city and suburbs.

They’re prime examples of the benefits that the BCEC brings to the region’s hotel industry. But David Gibbons, executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, says a chronic shortage of room blocks close to the Summer Street event hall is dampening repeat business and sending industry events elsewhere in years to come.

“On the second turn, they’re taking a pass until we get this South Boston campus the way it should be,” Gibbons said. “They’re fighting for attendees, and if your attendees are stuck in Chinatown on a bus, it just ruins the whole thing.”

Convention center bookings are projected to decline from 6 to 41 percent between 2018 and 2021. A recent report by Beverly-based hotel consultants CHMWarnick placed part of the blame on meeting planners’ difficulty in assembling room blocks in South Boston, and the high cost of shuttling conventioneers from Back Bay and suburban hotels.

The MCCA estimates it needs another 2,000 hotel rooms committed to group business to maximize bookings at the BCEC and Hynes Convention Center.

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