With 220,000 square feet of hospitality, the Branson Convention Center has exceeded projections in revenue as well as convention bookings.

General Manager of the convention center Mark Hartman reported to the Branson city aldermen that his marketing team booked $4.8 million of revenue into the convention center in 2007.

“I’d like to thank the city of Branson, the CVB and especially Ross Summer and Dan Lennon and the community, at large, for really helping us get off to a very good start in 2007,” Hartman told the aldermen.

He added that his marketing team had already booked 186 events for 2008.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Bill Tirone and his sales team — they were the number two team in the entire nation for The Hiltons. They booked 131 percent of their booking goal. They’ve done a great job in selling Branson and the Branson Convention Center,” Hartman said. “We still have 81 tentatives out there that we can close on — we also have some prospects in 2009.”

Hartman stated that their totals compare well to the CS&L study done. Their projection for the convention center with the hotel and lakeside, was to have 177 event days when the booking stabilized.

“In 2008, we’re already at 198 event days. Not only did we book $4.8 million in revenue (last year), one of our big focuses was to work on multi-year events so that when we finish up a year we don’t have to go back and resell that client,” Hartman said, explaining why he felt the years to come would stabilize.

The overall satisfaction rate from surveys done after a group had been to the convention center was at 86 percent with some of the sub-categories reaching 100 percent. The “Larger Meeting Planner Survey” asked what was the group’s likelihood of returning and their likelihood of recommending the convention center. It also asked how they felt about the sales negotiation process which showed a 100 percent from every convention polled. None of the responses were lower than 75 percent after August 2007.

The “Small Meeting Planner Survey” showed even higher results.

Some of the perks to conventioneers that contribute to that satisfaction are cutting-edge meeting technology such as LCD screens outside the meeting rooms, video conferencing, optional sound-proof rooms and wireless Internet communications packages.

The convention center is within walking distance from Historic Downtown Branson and the Landing as well as a short drive to all the entertainment venues offered in the area, which the sales team uses to “sell Branson.”

The marketing team ventures out on a Trade Show schedule that includes 22 events, selling Branson as a destination.

Hartman reported that they’ve had a total of 76,000 visits to their Web site — each month it has grown.

“One of the key things about the Web site is that RFPs (request for proposals) for the convention center in 2007. We had over 90 customers that looked at the Web site and found Branson to be interesting and asked for a request for a proposal to be sent to them for their group. I think we booked seven events so far, and we still have plenty of prospects,” Hartman said.

Alderman Steven Marshall asked Hartman how much of the business the team has brought to the convention center is new to Branson.

“I would guess about 60 percent. I think there are people out there that have looked at Branson but haven’t thought about using (Branson for a convention) until the convention center came up,” Hartman responded. “One that comes to mind is the Republican Convention. I think that by having a center here, it drew them here, whether or not they use it — it will bring a lot of vitality and opportunity to Branson.”

Information courtesy of Branson Daily News