LOCAL ECONOMIC SNAPSHOT | HOLIDAY HOTELS

Putting heads in beds at year’s end
By KAREN ROBINSON-JACOBS
Staff Writer krjacobs@dallasnews.com

By TROY OXFORD
Staff Artist toxford@dallasnews.com

For major convention hotels, the holidays can be lonely. Conventions, the bread and butter of hotels like the Gaylord Texan and Hilton Anatole, slow dramatically around the holidays as conventioneers spend their days stuffing turkeys and Christmas stockings. Some hotels, hoping to make up the slack with area families, have turned to elaborate holiday-themed exhibits either on site or through partnerships with nearby attractions.

Hope for the holidays
Some hotels are spending big bucks to attract holiday revelers. Paid attractions offer a new revenue stream, while free attractions help market hotels to future guests.

Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center
Grapevine 1,511 guest rooms, nine floors HOLIDAY ATTRACTION, FREE Lone Star Christmas: Through Jan. 4 1.5 million twinkling lights, 15,000 ornaments Bragging rights: 54-foot-tall rotating Christmas tree HOLIDAY ATTRACTION, PAID ICE, featuring The Nutcracker: Includes more than 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures and slides, accompanied by the original Tchaikovsky score; new for 2013, a section that includes iconic holiday sights and sounds of New York City Price: Adults, peak times: $29.95; children (ages 4-12): $16.95

Hilton Anatole
Dallas 1,608 guest rooms Atrium 14 floors, Tower 28 floors HOLIDAY ATTRACTION, FREE Christmas at the Anatole: Through Jan. 4 Santa’s Workshop, Rudolph’s Reindeer Barn, a life-size gingerbread house Bragging rights: 40-foot Nutcracker described as the tallest in Texas HOLIDAY ATTRACTION, PAID Sparkle: Includes a large ice skating rink designed to resemble a small-town pond; 1 million lights in the trees of the park and a main stage where live acts will perform every day of the season Price: $9 for adults (18 and older), $7 for children 7-17, and free for children 6 and younger

Sheraton Arlington Hotel
Arlington 311 guest rooms 19 floors HOLIDAY ATTRACTION, FREE Through Jan. 5 Three decorated 18-foot Christmas trees in the lobby, and exterior lights

HOLIDAY ATTRACTION, PAID Six Flags Holiday in the Park package: Includes overnight stay, breakfast buffet for two and two tickets to Six Flags Holiday in the Park; bragging rights: The Tree of Trees, a 60-foot-tall display made up of 70 Christmas trees with lights programmed to move with music Price: $189

Displays help boost sales
At the Gaylord Texan, the fourth quarter can be the strongest period of the year, and the hotel gives much of the credit to its holiday attractions. The Anatole, with its new Christmas attraction, hopes to follow suit. The Omni Dallas Hotel is launching several new Christmas attractions, including a build-your-own gingerbread house or man. ROOMS REVENUE*
$20 million Gaylord Texan

Auld Lang Syne
For hoteliers, the year often goes out with a whimper. The hotel occupancy rate in Dallas for December can be up to 10 percentage points lower than the overall year average. Dallas end-of-year hotel performance OCCUPANCY
80% 60% 40% 20% 0 O N D 2009 O N D 2010 O N D 2011 O N D 2012

$15 Hilton Anatole $10 Omni Dallas $100 $80 $60 $40 $20 $5 $0 O

AVERAGE DAILY RATE

N D 2009

O

N D 2010

O

N D 2011

O

N D 2012

REVENUE
Sheraton Arlington 0 1Q 2012 2Q 2012 3Q 2012 4Q 2012 $150 million $120 $90 $60 $30 $0
SOURCES: Hilton Anatole; Gaylord Texan; Sheraton Arlington; Omni Dallas Hotel; Texas comptroller; STR, formerly Smith Travel Research

* Does not include food and drink revenue

O

N D 2009

O

N D 2010

O

N D 2011

O

N D 2012

The bottom line
“November traditionally is the month that things do slow down in the hotel industry. Conferences/conventions/ group meetings are quite active in the fall. When November rolls around … there’s a dramatic decline in overall demand that traditionally lasts through the following February.” Jeff Higley, vice president, Hotel News Now/STR/STR Global “It’s a good time to bring local residents into the facility. Local residents are a great source of referrals. Clearly it’s beneficial from a marketing standpoint, and you might generate sales for your food and beverage [department]. Depending on the scope of the holiday promotion, the revenue stream may be nominal or significant.” Robert Gilbert, president & CEO, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International “Dallas has made great strides in boosting its allure as a convention destination. It needs to become more enticing to vacationers as well. Attractions such as the Perot Museum will help, but more is needed.”

Karen Robinson-Jacobs, staff writer, The Dallas Morning News

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