Convention Business Booming in Atlantic City

Despite the fact that fewer people have visited there so far this year, convention business boomed in Atlantic City, N.J., during the first half of 2011, local newspaper The Press of Atlantic City reported last week.

According to the paper, which cites the most recent statistics from the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority (ACCVA), Atlantic City booked 26 percent more conventions during the first half of 2011 than during 2010. In the same period, conventions drew 72 percent more people who spent 75 percent more money and generated 60 percent more room nights.

"Conventions are here longest — three or four days," ACCVA Executive Director Jeffrey Vasser told The Press. "You might see a decline in the number of visitor trips, but you're replacing [daytrippers] with convention customers, and they're staying longer and spending more."

According to Vasser, this year's convention uptick is a result of bookings made in 2008, when casinos — who had traditionally reserved room blocks for gamblers — began accommodating the guest room needs of conventions in response to the economic downturn.

"The shift in demand certainly is attributable to these conventions," Brian Tyrrell, professor of hospitality and tourism at The Richard Stockton College, told The Press. "And now [casinos] are actually making money through room revenue rather than some formula that says, 'If you get them here to play, you'll make money.'"