Orlando appeals to corporate travelers with lower airfare, more hotels.
The Hilton Orlando, one of several new properties near the convention center
» Hotel rooms: 115,199, up 1,090 rooms from 2009
» Convention hotels: 8.2% of all hotel properties, but 30% of all rooms
» Occupancy: Up 7.4% to 64.7% for convention properties. Leisure hotel occupancy rose 5.8% to 62.7%
» Revenue per available room for convention hotels: Up 3.7% to $88.29, more than double the $46.47 for leisure hotel rooms
Source: Visit Orlando and Smith Travel Research
When the nation's business travel planners arrive in Orlando next month for their World Education Congress, they will find a new Waldorf Astoria, a new Hilton and an expansion of the Peabody Orlando, all built during the recession when the travel market was weak.
With a brighter outlook for the economy and corporate travel this year, Orlando has positioned itself for a better return on investment in the business travel sector, where it has traditionally struggled against corporate and financial centers such as New York, Chicago and Atlanta, even though those cities have fewer hotel rooms than Orlando and are more expensive.
A recent study by data research firm Diio found that airfares to Orlando were the lowest of the 40 busiest domestic airports, averaging $29 less per flight.
Visit Orlando CEO Gary Sain says the region's affordability is paying off. After a stronger than expected 2010, business travel to Orlando is forecast to grow an additional 2.3% this year and 4.8% in 2012. Orlando hotel occupancy has topped 80% for the first time since 2008, and a number of conventions and trade shows set records during the first half of the year.
To help meet Sain's goal of positioning Orlando as a serious business destination, Visit Orlando has added meeting planner programs and services, a full-time destination marketing professional for attendance-building initiatives and two full-service site inspectors.?
But the region's main selling point this year is its impressive list of brick and mortar projects topping $4 billion. Visit Orlando is primed to showcase hundreds of new hotel rooms and dining and entertainment options along the revitalized International Drive near the convention center when Meeting Professionals International arrives for its annual conference. Farther north, Orlando is eager to show off its new Amway Center and the rebounding Church Street entertainment district downtown.