Wendy Howe, executive director of the Minot CVB, said there are currently just over 2,100 rooms in Minot spread across 19 hotels.
The occupancy rate through the first couple months this year has been averaging 81 percent, which is definitely on the high end.
That rate at this time of year is up 6 percent from last year and up 17 percent compared to 2010.
"It's kind of just steadily been climbing," Howe
On average, the occupancy level in North Dakota at this time of year only averages 68 percent, while nationally it's just 53 percent.
"So having the type of occupancy that we have is very unusual compared to the rest of the country," Howe
Along with the 19 current hotels, Howe
said four more are slated to open in the near future: Hampton Inn, Country Inn & Suites, Astoria and Microtel.
"And we also have heard that there are others that have taken out permits," Howe
"There are others that have not started construction, but have either went through the planning stages or went through the process of taking out permits to build."
Minot's occupancy rate is steadily climbing even though more and more hotel rooms have been coming online.
Although oil companies snatching up rooms as soon as they become available is definitely contributing to this trend, it's far from the only reason.
said there are many more events in Minot that are attracting increasing numbers of tourists than in previous years.
On top of that, recovery from the Souris River flood is still ongoing, and all the extra workers in town for the cleanup job need a place to stay.
In addition, Howe
speculates that many people in outlying communities who didn't have permanent residence there are taking rooms in Minot as they open up to at least get into town, maybe with the intention of looking for an apartment or other more permanent housing option once they're here.
said they often get the question about whether Minot is overbuilding hotels to meet current demand, only to have them sit vacant in a few years.
It's not something she
has any control over, however, so it's something she
doesn't waste her
time worrying about.
"At this point we're welcoming the hotel rooms that are being added because as new hotels have come online in the last year, as they've opened they've immediately been predominately filled with contracts from oil companies or energy companies or construction companies.
They've been contracted for a number of rooms, so it doesn't make it any easier for the leisure traveller, the random business traveller, especially convention groups and sports tournaments," Howe
"So we are hoping with more hotel rooms coming online, as well as more apartments and homes being built, that that's going to create more vacancies in the hotels, which will give us the chance to attract more visitors to the community and not have so many long-term stays in the hotels."
went on to say all hotel developers go through an extensive process to make sure building another hotel in Minot is a viable business opportunity not only now, but well into the future.
"I'm sure they're each doing their homework to find out what the occupancy is (and) what the future is estimated to look like.
I don't have a lot of control over whether more hotels are not built or are built, so I try to worry myself with things I do have control over," Howe
"But at this point I can tell you, from our perspective, with the hotels that have come online we don't feel like we are overbuilt because the hotels that have come online have indicated to us that they have been mostly full with contracts almost immediately.
And for our leisure travellers and our convention attendees that we've been trying to continue to have come to Minot, having more availability will be beneficial."
said the Minot CVB
partners very closely with the hotels around town to ensure enough room blocks are reserved for events such as convention and meeting groups, and athletic tournaments, as well.
While they have managed to handle the lodging requirements for those events, Howe
said they would like to grow those opportunities in the future.
"We would like to grow them.
We'd like to be able to have more of those kind of events, and larger events," Howe
Minot's high occupancy rate has made finding a room a little more challenging the past few years, but Howe
said things are actually getting better.
noted one of the CVB's
major initiatives to help travellers out is listing hotel vacancies on their website at (visitminot.org).
conducts regular surveys of hotels in Minot to see what room availability is like.
That information is then updated on the CVB website so travellers can see what hotels have rooms available at a glance.
said hopefully this information will save visitors from having to make too many phone calls to find a room.
"On the top of our web page there's a "Hotel" button. ...
If they click on that, they can see what dates we've done.
We usually survey about a month to six weeks out, and then we also include some busy times," Howe
"So we've also included the State Fair and (Norsk) Hstfest because we know people will be looking for accommodations then, as well."
said putting room availability on their website so visitors can easily see how many hotels have vacancies has helped fight the perception that Minot never has any open hotel rooms.
While that might have been the case to some degree in the past, finding rooms has become easier lately as more hotels have come online.
"We've been doing this survey for quite a long time, and there was a period of time where it was difficult to find vacancies," Howe
"If you were a company where you were bringing employees in and out of Minot on a regular basis, and you're looking for rooms regularly, they can subscribe to this and every time we update it they get an email with the most current information," Howe
said they have really tried to target their marketing area to more of a local and regional reach.
"We are reaching around the state, especially in western North Dakota where we know there's a population boom and people are looking for things to do that are a short drive away," Howe
"And we've also continued to make the Canadian market a priority for us."
They are really working on the marketing theme of plan in advance, to get people more in the habit of planning ahead.
said Canadian visitors who have been coming to Minot for many years might not be used to having to call in advance for a hotel room.
Instead, they called a few days before or just looked for a room when they got into town.
While that still might work from time to time today, Howe
said calling well ahead of their arrival date to secure a room can help alleviate a lot of frustration for tourists if hotel rooms are tight.
"So really kind of that plan in advance, and then making it more of a closer market for us of who we're going after," Howe
said of their current marketing strategy.
"So that when visitors or new residents to our community come, they find that magic of Minot," Howe
"The hospitality that we're used to giving that's going to keep them coming back or help them be glad that they relocated here."
said they develop a new marketing plan every year, and while 2012 is still young, she
said the marketing plan seems to be working well so far.
They have done several Canadian trade shows and the response has been good.
"It's working very well to help provide them with the information that hotel rooms are available.
That was a big message that we heard: Will there be rooms if we want to come to Minot?
"So by the number of requests that we're seeing from the Canadian visitors post marketing campaign, we're seeing the interest in Minot continue as well as increase a little bit, as well."
~A different summer~
While the summer last year was hardly a typical one for Minot, Howe
said that this year's summer will be different from normal, as well.
said some of the attractions the CVB
has typically marketed in the past will be missing this year, so they will have to focus on the things that are available, on the new things opening, and the special events the Magic City will have.
hopes those things will help drive visitor traffic, as well.
mentioned Roosevelt Park Zoo not being fully available this year and the golf courses being available on a much smaller scale as challenges they will have to overcome in marketing Minot to visitors.
"Those things are definitely attractors for visitors, so some of those things could have an impact.
So we'll have to counteract that with promoting things that we do have available, like focusing on some of our events like the jazz festival, the summer concert series, the MSU summer theater, and special events like the air show that will be happening at the airport," Howe
While the current marketing plan is only a few months old, Howe
and the rest of the CVB
staff are already thinking of the day when it will need to be replaced.
is looking not only at marketing, but also facilities.
The board and the staff have been meeting with some of our partners to look at what