Hotel owners in Denton are asking the city to give the green light to a new tourism plan, which they say would give the city a leg up in the ultra-competitive convention business.
Several other cities in North Texas are already seeking to establish Tourism Public Improvement Districts, which tourism officials say help create more resources to attract visitors and conventions.
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Zach Glenn oversees Best Western Premier, one of 26 hotels in Denton.
“The hotel business is good,” said Glenn, vice president of Helm Hotels Group. “We’ve had a very solid past five years.”
Glenn says his hotel already benefits from conventions held at a competing hotel, Embassy Suites, where Denton’s new convention center is located. The entire community benefits, he says.
“We have restaurants, downtown businesses,” he said. “So really, the success of the convention center affects the entire city.”
But attracting convention business in North Texas is a battle. From larger cities like Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington, to smaller ones and out of state markets, everyone wants a piece of the pie.
“It’s extremely competitive,” said Glenn. “And it’s getting more competitive all the time.”
For that reason, Glenn and other Denton hoteliers approached city leaders, asking to help create a TPID. City government approval would be required to ask the Texas state legislature for the designation, which supporters say would allow hotels to collect fees from guests. The money would then be put into a pot to pay for convention recruitment.
“You have to have resources to be able to compete in that kind of arena,” said Kim Phillips, vice president of the Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Phillips says the convention recruitment money would pay for itself — and then some.
“When delegates come to a convention, they spent money in restaurants, in stores and entertainment, and attractions,” she said. “That’s what we’re looking for — the overall impact.”
Supporters of the TPID use Dallas as an example. In 2011, it became the first Texas city to receive TPID designation. Since then, convention business has doubled.
Competing cities including Frisco, Allen and Irving also plan to ask the state legislature to approve TPID’s next session, said Glenn, making Denton’s bid that much more crucial. It already spends less on tourism, compared to competing cities.
“We’re already at a disadvantage,” he said. “If we don’t do this we’ll fall further behind the chains.”