Tourism economy to benefit from record room night production

COLUMBUS – Record-breaking bed tax collections and room night production for future years resulted in a strong 2018 for the local tourism economy. The Hilton Columbus Downtown announced an expansion to build the city’s first 1,000-room convention hotel and new direct west coast flights from John Glenn International were secured for launch in 2019. New attractions that garnered national attention opened, including the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden and the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. All of these initiatives provide greater opportunity for the city to capitalize on hosting ASAE’s 2019 Annual Meeting & Exposition in August.

According to reports from the Office of City of Columbus Auditor Megan Kilgore, hotel/motel bed tax collections increased 2.29 percent YTD or $1.07 million as of Dec. 31, with collections totaling $47.9 million. These funds support not only Experience Columbus, but also cultural and arts programs, social services, affordable housing programs and the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority.

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, the STR report shows Greater Columbus hotel occupancy and RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room) decreased, while daily rates increased over the same time period in 2017.




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* RevPAR is a hotel industry performance metric, which is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s ADR by its occupancy rate

New hotel inventory outpaced booked rooms throughout the metropolitan statistical area (MSA), resulting in a drop in occupancy. Looking ahead, to maintain and grow occupancy, there must be a strategic focus to add inventory that will attract new convention business opportunities and create demand within the market.  

“This past year laid the foundation for a successful 2019 and beyond,” said Brian Ross, Experience Columbus president and CEO. “I’m proud of our team’s collective efforts to book more room nights than ever before, in totality and in the key segments of medical, engineering, scientific and corporate industries. Also, we’re already seeing the positive effects of hosting ASAE in August. We successfully won the bid for the International Literacy Association’s convention in 2020 and have received increased interest and new leads from major national associations.”

In 2018, Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission booked 524,848 room nights for future years, which is a nine percent increase over 2017. The organizations fielded 971 leads, representing 1.6 million room nights, compared to 884 leads representing 1.3 million room nights in 2017.

“This past year was a defining moment in our sports scene as the community rallied together to successfully #SavetheCrew, host a hugely impactful NCAA Women’s Final Four and the 2020 NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series,” said Linda Logan, Greater Columbus Sports Commission executive director. “In 2019, our city will proudly welcome many returning events to Columbus including USA Fencing National Championships, USA Volleyball Adult Open Championships, NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball First and Second Rounds and the NCAA Division II Women’s Elite Eight.”  


Experience Columbus is the destination marketing organization for the Columbus region, dedicated to growing visitor spending and enhancing the visitor experience. Annually, visitors make more than 41.1 million trips to Greater Columbus for conventions, tradeshows, sporting events and leisure visits, generating $7 billion in direct visitor spending and supporting 78,000 jobs. For more information, visit