Group Bookings Rise in Northern Kentucky

Despite the down economy, group business bookings in Northern Kentucky rose by 12 percent in 2009 over 2008, according to a report released this month by the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The increase in group bookings, which represents a boost of almost 12,000 hotel room nights, is in spite of visitor spending in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, which declined by 14.5 percent last year, down to $262 million in 2009 from 306 million in 2008.

"We focused on group markets like sports and religious organizations that offered the highest sales opportunities, especially with the new Bank of Kentucky Center fully operational for the entire year in 2009," Northern Kentucky CVB President and CEO Tom Caradonio said in a statement. "Also, lower air fares at our airport have made us more competitive as a group destination. As opposed to previous years when our air fares were the highest in the nation, our sales team reported that we did not lose any group business bids as a result of air fares."

Since Delta Air Lines initiated a new fare structure in February 2009, officials at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport say air fares have declined by about 40 percent, local newspaper the Kentucky Post reported last week.

According to the Northern Kentucky CVB, corporate travelers accounted for 41.04 percent of group business in 2009; leisure travelers, meanwhile, accounted for 36.22 percent, meetings and conventions for 20.28 percent, and government for 2.46 percent.