Monday, October 26, 2009

The Quilters are Coming!!!

...and the railroad enthusiasts and the volleyball players...and the barbershop quartets...

Earlier this year, Lancaster welcomed the opening of our long-awaited Convention Center. While it's still working out the kinks of trying to service a whole new market of visitors and convention-goers, I believe it's going to be a good thing for Lancaster County tourism. Do the math - some of these conventions host thousands of people. The AQS Quilt Show and Contest , for example, is supposed to draw 17,000 people to the area. The Convention Center has only 300 rooms. So, as an innkeeper with a B&B only about 10 minutes from downtown, I'm wondering how I can get a piece of that pie.

Granted, the AQS quilt convention is one week out of the year, but these people will most likely come early, stay longer and come back if they feel welcome here. So another member of our Bed & Breakfast Association and I met with the organizers of the convention. We were not able to make any appreciable headway with any of our suggestions (a LONG story...for another blog, maybe) , but it did give us a new outlook on how these things are organized. We're still trying to get a meeting with people at the convention center, and that will eventually materialize. But in the meantime, each B&B will be encouraged to do what they can to make themselves attractive to the convention-goers.

Location is certainly a big factor when considering lodging options during a convention. Sure, you can stay right at the hotel (if you're one of the lucky 300), but then you don't get to experience all of what Lancaster County has to offer - Amish culture, superb shopping, great food, beautiful countryside. And staying at the convention hotel will not only set you back over $150 a night, but in addition, you'll have to pay for parking ($14/night), breakfast ($20+pp), and oh, don't touch that bottle of water in your room or it will show up on your bill at check-out.

On the other hand, stay at a local B&B and you'll get a special convention rate , but of course breakfast is included, parking is free and so is the bottled water you'll find in your room! So, when you're attending a convention at our beautiful, new convention center downtown, don't be afraid to think a little 'out of the box' and reserve a room at one of Lancaster's finest - a bed & breakfast!