How the hospitality industry is exceeding expectations going into this summer

Downtown skyline with Buildings in Milwaukee USA
Posted at 5:18 AM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 07:53:27-04

MILWAUKEE — VISIT Milwaukee says next year’s hotel bookings are already outpacing 2019’s numbers. Getting more heads in beds will help many other facets of business in Brew City.

Claire Koenig says VISIT Milwaukee’s sales team booked 21,000 room nights for future years through 2025.

“21,000 room nights for future years in one month is fabulous — and that will help go a long way to a full recovery, at least on the meeting and convention side of things," said Koenig.

To put that number into perspective, Koenig says the total number of rooms available on a single night in Milwaukee County is about 17,000.

"To book over, that is great. It just gives you an indicator of the volume," said Koenig.

Tim Dixon, the owner of The Iron Horse Hotel, has been focused on getting future bookings back to normal levels.

“We stuck it out and we stayed open, and we had a saying the entire time: if we close the doors, we'll never close again," said Dixon.

Our Milwaukee Bucks have helped the hotel bounce back faster. He is looking forward to the Bucks getting home-court advantage in the next round of playoffs.

“It means that [during] those games, the hotels will be full and the restaurant will be busy," said Dixon.

Visit Milwaukee says the economic impact of each playoff game is more than $3 million. That includes more than $70,000 in tax revenue for the city and at least 25,000 booked hotel rooms.

“Our occupancy is almost what it was before,” said Dixon.

Visit Milwaukee is also showing off The Wisconsin Center’s shiny $420 million dollar expansion. Twenty-four new meeting rooms will be added, along with a fourth room ballroom with space to feed at least 2,000 people at once.

The expansion is expected to be completed sometime in 2024.

In the meantime, the itch for families to get out and explore is getting more intense this summer.

“Weekends are great, everyone wants to get desperately out," said Dixon.

The Iron Horse Hotel is also hiring. “We’re looking for cooks, servers, managers, [an] executive position [is] open and we will hire, just get an application in,” said Dixon.

Click here to apply.

VISIT Milwaukee rolled out a new marketing campaign called Where Unique Unites.

Koenig says it's targeted to planners in specific markets.

“Denver and Washington D.C. are huge market places for meeting planners, so we really wanted to get eyeballs on Milwaukee there. The hope is to remind them of the amazing amenities Milwaukee has, but also the top-notch facilities. Also, get them excited for the Wisconsin Center’s expansion," said Koenig.

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