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Business travel boosts Reno, Sparks hotel bookings

Rob Sabo
rsabo@nnbw.biz
Bidders at the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction in August helped lead to a record rate for rooms in Reno-Sparks.
Photo Courtesy RSCVA |

Tesla and other big-name businesses relocating or expanding in the Truckee Meadows are having a huge impact on business travel in northern Nevada, a trend that’s expected to continue throughout 2015.

And though a few of the most popular special events took it on the chin last year due to inclement weather, the region’s lineup of special events will continue to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to northern Nevada in 2015.

Business travel is a one category causing a large spike in visitation and room night bookings in the Truckee Meadows. According to the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, year-over-year revenue at non-gaming hotels in Reno-Sparks grew by nearly $1.1 million in September through November.



“Tesla and the drone industry has create a demand for inbound and outbound business travel,” says Chris Baum, president and chief executive officer of the RSCVA. “We have a lower volume of business travel than lot of destinations our size, but average rates and volume for our corporate-type properties is stating to climb.

“As economic growth impacts us, it impacts our hotels, too,” Baum adds. “We are becoming a hybrid of a business destination and a resort town.”



The average daily rate for hotel rooms in the Truckee Meadows hit record highs in 2014, and trend that could continue during peak tourism events in the New Year.

From January of 2014 through October, taxable rooms booked in Washoe County stood at 2,495,555, down a modest .7 percent from the same 10-month span in the previous year. The average daily rate for rooms booked during that time was $86.77 — and the ADR hit a record high of $104 per night in August.

Baum says the record ADR was result of the contingent of well-heeled car aficionados that came to Reno-Sparks during Hot August Nights to bid on rare and classic cars at the Barrett-Jackson auction at Reno Sparks Convention Center.

“When you have people coming in from all over country buying expensive cars and paying $200 or more for a room, it adds significant demand and uptick on average rates,” Baum says. “Barrett-Jackson brings more than 20 hours of TV coverage to our region, and it’s a client we aspire to on a more regular basis.”

David Farahi, chief operating officer for Monarch Casino & Resort, parent of the Atlantis Casino Resort, says the waves of new businesses and development coming to Reno has sparked a flurry of interest in the region.

That excitement has hoteliers buzzing as well, as the increased focus on northern Nevada can bring more visitors and tourism dollars to the region.

“The spotlight has been on Tesla, but that is only the marquee event,” Farahi says. “The real story is how many businesses are relocating to northern Nevada and how northern Nevada has some great attributes for them. It’s driving the economic diversification that we need.”

The Atlantis and other hotel-casinos in the Truckee Meadows, Farahi says, are ideally positioned to capture increased gross gaming revenue and additional revenue in food and beverage and room and spa operations. The executive team at the Atlantis also is working closely with the RSCVA to bring new convention business to northern Nevada and the convention center, driven by the RSCVA 5-year strategic plan, especially with the departure of Safari Club International.

According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, year-over-year gaming revenue in Washoe County in November of 2104 was up nearly 7 percent, although the four previous months showed minor declines from year-earlier figures.