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Omaha Magazine

Omaha CVB: Looking to the Future

Mar 26, 2021 04:23PM ● By Deborah Ward
Omaha CVB's Deborah Ward

Traveler sentiment is slowly improving, thanks to the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine. Pair that with pent-up demand and a solid 2021 calendar of events, and this year provides hope for our industry.

Currently, there are 62 events and meetings on the books for 2021, business that could bring more than $167 million into our local economy. For perspective, in 2019, a year without a global pandemic, meetings and events brought in $121 million. Therefore, 2021 looks promising, but here is where the cautious optimism comes in: A recent traveler sentiment report by Destinations Analyst shows that nearly half of Americans say they will avoid travel until vaccines are widely available. The comfort level of travelers, event planners, association executives, and businesses will dictate the industry’s success, and that needle (literally) is constantly moving.

Leisure travel will lead the recovery. Visit Omaha plans to begin targeting leisure travelers in the second quarter by employing innovative digital media technology that customizes ads based on consumer preferences and tracks both visitation to the city and spending by those travelers who received Visit Omaha advertising. 

The convention and group tour business will take longer to recover. Based on Tourism Economics’ projections for the meetings industry, full recovery will not happen until 2024.

In the meantime, youth and amateur sports are taking center stage with events such as the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship and the Northern Lights Qualifier youth volleyball tournament. Northern Lights brought 280 teams and nearly 3,800 athletes to Omaha in January. During a typical January weekend (Friday and Saturday), hotel revenue averages around $639,000. However, hotel revenue jumped to $1.1M, a 72% increase, the week with the volleyball tournament. 

These events are a welcome shot in the arm for our local economy, and proof that tourism will help in our community’s recovery. 

This article was printed in the April/May 2021 issue of B2B Magazine.