The Business of Tourism: Hampton

by Ryan Miller

Answers provided by Mary Fugere, Director of Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau

How is your market doing in terms of yearly revenue, year/year hotel occupancy and year/year RevPAR?
In 2016, Hampton saw growth in Occupancy, ADR, RevPAR, Revenue and Demand. We ended the year with 7 percent growth in RevPAR. We have seen consistent growth in Occupancy, Average Daily Rate and RevPAR in 2014, 2015, and 2016. We have started the year with strong numbers for both January and February and are very optimistic about the coming year.

What new projects/developments or changes in business practices are coming in the next year and beyond? How will these projects/developments impact visitation?
Peninsula Town Center has several new additions that will positively impact the Hampton visitor's experiences. There are several new restaurants including Mission BBQ, First Watch, Noodles & Company, new retailers and exciting plans for additional on-site development.

In the past year we have seen two new microbreweries enter the scene including Oozlefinch at Fort Monroe and Bull Island Brewing Company on the Downtown Hampton waterfront. Along with established and award-winning St. George Brewing Company, Hampton offers visitors an impressive and refreshing menu of local brews that is expected to continue to grow.

The ladies of ‘Mango Mango’ Mango Preserves have Hampton seeing many shades of orange. They began by opening Mango Mangeaux, a divine eatery in Hampton's Phoebus district. A nail salon and spa followed and, most recently, they opened Simply Panache Place, a boutique hotel located across from the restaurant.

Fort Monroe continues to come into its own as a national monument and recreation destination. While the historic fort will forever remain the key attraction, visitors are presented with enough on-site activities to spend the day and evening. Beaches, waterfront dining, camping, bike rentals and summer concerts are just a few of the activities that complement learning about Fort Monroe's vast history at the Casemate Museum and other sites on the lovely campus.

New hotel developments and hotel transitions will improve the accommodation options of Hampton visitors. Hyatt Place, constructed by Landmark Hotel Group, will open in Hampton near the Hampton Roads Convention Center in 2018, and it has been announced that the Crowne Plaza, recently purchased by Shamin Hotels, will convert to Tapestry, Hilton's recently-announced boutique flag.

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?
The Hampton CVB partnered with Coliseum Central and Downtown Hampton Development Partnership to showcase Hampton restaurants and their culinary decadence with the Hampton Eats campaign. The campaign combined print ads, social media, e-blasts, among other components, to create a fun highlight of Hampton's crab cakes, gourmet burgers, desserts and cocktails, culminating with Hampton Restaurant Week, held March 6–11.

Hampton was the grateful beneficiary of the success of the film Hidden Figures, a major motion picture nominated for multiple Oscars. The film brought to light the work, talents and pivotal contributions of Dorothy Vaughn, Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson, female African-American mathematicians, employed by NASA at the advent of the U.S. Space Program. Hampton, founding site of NASA, location of West Computing where the women were employed, and the location of the film's storyline, has received recognition and great visitor interest as a result of Hidden Figures. 2017 is NASA Langley's 100th Anniversary, which adds even greater cause for celebration.

What are your largest challenges and obstacles? Who is your competition?
New meeting and conference venues in the region have presented new challenges in an already-competitive market. The Hampton Roads Convention Center presented 344,000 square feet of magnificent meeting and event space. With the Hampton Coliseum arena and the Embassy Suites headquarters hotel connected to the convention center by covered walkway, Hampton presents a convention product with which few Virginia cities can compare.

What does tourism mean to the City of Hampton? How does it affect local taxes, and how does it affect our quality of life? How does it help drive our local economy, jobs and the quality of our schools and education system?
Tourism directly impacts the quality of life services found throughout the region. Coastal Virginia is an exceptional place to live because of the region's success as a visitor destination. Hampton is no different. Whether generated from leisure visitors, meeting delegates, athletic competitions, visitor spending and the taxes generated by their lodging, meals and entertainment choices generate dollars that make Hampton an incredible city in which to live.

Do you feel that the cities of Coastal Virginia sufficiently work together to boost tourism? If not, how do you think that the relationships among cities could improve?
The tourism representatives of each Coastal Virginia city partner together to maximize tourism's impact. After all, a visitor does not know when they leave Hampton and enter Newport News or another of our regional neighbors. They simply know they are visiting a region rife with opportunity to explore and enjoy. The Coastal Virginia Tourism Alliance worked together to build a website to guide visitors' explorations.

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