Post Floods, Iowa Hotels Aim to Keep Meetings Afloat

Following this month's devastating floods along the Mississippi River in Iowa, area hotels are banding together in order to keep meetings and other events in the state.

In that spirit, the Quad-City Convention & Visitors Bureau is helping the Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau locate and book vacant hotel rooms and event space on behalf of displaced Cedar Rapids visitors.

"We do not want the region to lose the economic impact of these events," Joe Taylor, president and CEO of the Quad-City bureau, told the Quad-City Times, "so our sales and marketing staff are working closely with the Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to keep this business in our region."

In particular, the Cedar Rapids bureau needs hotel rooms through the end of the month to accommodate visitors who are headed to Iowa for already-scheduled events. The area has very few vacancies thanks to its large population of displaced local residents, not to mention the influx of flood relief workers, volunteers and national media from surrounding states.

Long-term, the Iowa bureaus are cooperating and collaborating in order to convince a major convention—the 2008 Barbershop Harmony Convention, slated to bring hundreds of barbershop quartets to Iowa in October—to relocate from Cedar Rapids to the Quad-Cities. While some organizers are pushing to move the convention to Lincoln, Neb., Iowa tourism officials are lobbying hard to retain its business.

"Obviously, the flooding is serious," Taylor continued. "It is a national story. But that national media attention is causing challenges in getting the word out that, 'Yes, the flooding is bad, but […] lots of parts of Iowa and Illinois aren't flooded.'"

In those parts of the Midwest, he urged, the shows must—and will—go on.