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Hotel Feasibility Study Conducted for Prowers County

 

 

Can Lamar support a new upscale hotel year round? A feasibility study has been conducted by Jessica Junker, a Core Distinction Group Representative who visited Lamar March 27th to determine the lodging needs in Prowers County.  One of Junker’s stops was with the Prowers County Commissioners, where she outlined some of the criteria she would be using to help make a determination.  The information gathered by the group will be used by Prowers Economic Prosperity (PEP) as a future reference guide for any prospective hotel franchise looking at Prowers County as a potential development site.

Junker marked the distinction between a hotel and motel. A motel, or motor lodge, offers a parking place where you can drive to your door in front of the patron’s room.  A hotel usually has a portico where a vehicle can be parked during check-in with customer rooms on a first and at least a second floor.  Hotels, she said, offer more amenities and are considered to be more luxurious than just a simple room to rent.

The interviews Junker holds with ‘demand or revenue generators’ would provide her with information on whether the community has a need for an upscale establishment, based on customers not finding an available room and traveling to another location. “When that happens, you’re losing your revenue and tax dollars,” she explained, adding that the additional revenue loss comes with fewer customers for retail outlets such as restaurants, stores and gas stations. By the same token, there must be a sufficient demand to make a new hotel a financial option.  “You don’t want to see a hotel that’s built and stays empty and fails.  That’s another aspect of the feasibility study,” she explained to the commissioners.

Asked if new businesses in the county would relate to a new hotel, she said probably not, “Our survey is based on concrete facts. We don’t conduct the survey based on probably business growth as it doesn’t automatically translate to a call for more rooms.  We tend to have a conservative view and wouldn’t want to have one built on our say-so.”  By the same token, a new hotel venture is not based on a city’s population, explaining it’s more a matter of need.

The fact that Lamar is on the crossroads of two highways is a factor, but is not a guarantee for additional hotel business. Junker said there’s been a shift in the way travelers select an overnight place to stay.  “In year’s past, a family in a station wagon would stop at a place, ask ‘how much for a night’ and if it was too high, travel down the road, hoping to find a less expensive spot.  Websites have developed for franchise motels, posting availabilities and rates, allowing a traveler to book a room for every evening of their journey, often at discount rates.  Junker said, “You can get better deals online than you can by going in through the door.” She added some search engines are paid a percentage of a room rental by hotel franchises that are taken of the top of the cost of a room.  Junker said this makes it difficult for ‘mom and pop’ businesses that are less likely to have a website for their single hotel/motel that features a prominent position for online searches.

She told the commissioners that once the feasibility study has been completed and assessed, the Core group will be in contact with Eric Depperschmidt, Executive Director of PEP, with their findings and recommendations. Junker said there are hotel development companies that provide a breakdown of the costs of development, including materials, land and construction plus any extra costs involved and they can provide input into future considerations for a franchise group that may be interested in Prowers County.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyFeaturedTourismTransportation

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