Nashville’s 2,881-room Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center will be closed until at least November due to flooding from the nearby Cumberland River. The resort, the largest meeting facility in Tennessee’s capital city, has refunded deposits made on reservations through August and moved 70,000 room nights to various hotels in the downtown area, nearby Franklin, Tenn., and other Gaylord properties in Texas and Washington, D.C.
With 600,000 square feet of meeting space, the Opryland does as much as a quarter of Nashville’s convention business. As a result, the city expects to lose 20 percent of its hotel tax revenue this year, even though most other hotels are open.
City convention officials are working to keep at least some of the 200 meetings scheduled in Nashville through November. They’ve already lost the Romance Writers of America to Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando; the National Baptist Convention of America to Atlanta; and the more than 3,000 attendees of November’s U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation 2010 Symposium to New Orleans.
However, CS Week, the conference and trade show for the water, wastewater and utility industries, stayed put, moving its 1,200 attendees to the Nashville Convention Center. While the Aug. 4-5 Hotel Data Conference will now be based at the Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel.
Ironically, as May ended, Nashville had the largest increase in hotel occupancy among the top 25 U.S. hotel markets for the second week in a row. The increases, however, were likely driven by residents forced to choose hotels over flooded homes, and to relief workers, contractors and insurance adjusters rather than travelers.
A key test for the city is expected with the CMA Music Festival and Fan Fair on June 10-13. It typically draws 50,000 a day to free and ticketed events around Nashville and generates $30 million in revenue. As of June 1, ticket sales for the event were up 33.4 percent over last year, according to the Country Music Association.