Hospitality industry in Edmond affected by COVID
Many of us are ready for a change of scenery. It can be as simple as a hotel pool or waking up in a new place and not having to make your bed. Staycations and drivable destinations are helping ease the stress of isolation. With easy access off Route 66, new downtown attractions like BlocWorks and the Railyard, parks like Mitch and Hafer and fishing, kayaking, swimming, camping, hiking, and biking at Arcadia Lake, Edmond is becoming a popular place for a getaway. But, successful local tourism hinges on visitors feeling safe enough to spend the night while shopping, eating, and exploring.
Visit Edmond has been riding the COVID-19 roller coaster with our Edmond lodging partners for several months now. Two Edmond hotels closed temporarily during the pandemic, but all 14 local properties are currently welcoming guests with strict cleaning protocols.
Group events have dramatically decreased since March, with one exception: The Lazy E Arena located between Edmond and Guthrie. Eight events from across the United States relocated to the Lazy E, and two of the largest rodeos wrangled $70 million from visitors that benefited our local economy. This has been a COVID silver lining and filled up Edmond hotel rooms in June and July.
Travelers coming from short distances
Dena Jones with Champion Hotels (LaQuinta Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn, Fairfield by Marriott) serves on the Edmond Convention & Tourism Advisory Board. She said, “Travelers are waiting to make plans and book rooms. We are noticing more last-minute reservations.”
Gabby Trad with the Edmond Conference Center and Hilton Garden Inn, said “Outdoor events are on the rise, and we are accommodating out-of-town friends and families for weddings and small gatherings. Communicating our policies to guests is key. For example, EventReady outlines standards for conferences and spaces and CleanStay describes how we clean rooms, public spaces and serve food at Hilton properties.”
Larry Rhoads with Two Hearts Inn Bed & Breakfast was closed for three weeks, but upon reopening saw surprising changes. “We have more Edmond residents and guests from a short drive away. They are also staying longer; average stays used to be one-two nights, now guests are staying three-four nights and taking time to experience our Tea Room and outdoor escape. Our six suites are full 75-80% of the time, so plan ahead!”
Overall, hotel occupancy in Edmond is down 45% compared to last year. Average room rates are also down by $6.50 compared to 2019. This affects Visit Edmond’s budget, which relies on a 4% lodging tax. We have changed the way we promote Edmond through more digital and online experiences to save on expenses.
Staying and playing in Edmond is safe and affordable for people who are ready for a road trip. Outdoor and indoor pools are open, and breakfast is “grab and go” to minimize contact. All major brands are mandating masks in public areas and following the Oklahoma Restaurant and Hotel Association’s recommendations as well as local, state and federal safety guidelines. Employees are screened daily and rooms are cleaned to the highest standards.
Remember your hometown hotels when family or friends crave a new view. Enjoy a couple of nights out of the house while exploring local hot spots. Check www.visitedmondok.com for upcoming events, attractions, public art and new dining and shopping ideas or follow us @VisitEdmond.
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About Jennifer Seaton
Jennifer Seaton has been the Director of Visit Edmond (also known as Edmond Convention & Visitors Bureau) since July 29, 2019. She is a City of Edmond employee and long-time Edmond resident. Jennifer brings extensive marketing and advertising experience from her 25 years working in the Oklahoma City metro. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Business Development for STAPLEGUN, an advertising agency based in Oklahoma City. She previously worked as the Director of Marketing for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Vice President of Marketing for United Way of Central Oklahoma. She attended Ohio University where she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communication. Jennifer's goal is to elevate the “Edmond experience” to attract more leisure travelers, tournaments, and business conferences to Edmond.