Meetings are Booming in Portland, Oregon
Portland, Ore. is rising to the top of the list for many corporations looking for a new destination for their events.
Known for its coffee shops, doughnuts, microbreweries, Powell’s bookstore and men with beards, Portland is the largest city in the state. It’s also known for its parks, being environmentally friendly and for the “Keep Portland Weird” counterculture, lovingly ridiculed in the sketch-comedy television show “Portlandia.”
In addition, Portland is home to a growing number of technology companies, including tech giant Amazon, which continues to expand its presence within the city.
All of these factors are contributing to the rise of interest in Portland as an event destination, according to Desiree Everett, director of convention sales for Travel Portland.
“We have a big makers culture,” said Everett. “And when I say ‘maker’ it could be anything from clothing to jewelry to our wine and food scene.”
She continued, “We have beer, wine, distilled spirits. We’re a big coffee town and a big tea town. There’s just something new to discover on every corner.”
And now the city’s tourism infrastructure is expanding to meet that demand.
Meeting at New Hotels
Portland is currently in the midst of a hotel boom, with the city expected to increase its hotel rooms by 40 percent between 2018 and 2020. Many of these new properties have meeting space, opening up new possibilities for corporate events.
In fact, five of the hotels that opened last year in Portland contain meeting space.
The Porter Portland, Curio Collection by Hilton opened in April 2018. The hotel features 297 guest rooms and approximately 8,000 square feet of meeting space with nine meeting rooms. There are four dining options on property, plus an expansive library and an indoor pool. The Porter’s meeting space offers a number of open patios and there are also outdoor decks off the xport bar and lounge upstairs.
Opened in Nov. 2018, the modern, pet-friendly Radisson RED Portland offers 180 studio rooms and 4,100 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a game lounge. Guests can use the Radisson RED app to order from the OUIBar + KTCHN restaurant from anywhere and avail themselves of the hotel's fitness center 24/7.
Also opened in Nov. 2018, The Hoxton features 119 rooms and offers “The Apartment,” a suite of four rooms that can be rented together or separately for meetings. All rooms open onto a fully-stocked pantry kitchen. The hotel’s rooftop taqueria and basement bar can also be rented for daytime events.
Featuring 2,160 sq. ft. of meeting space with four meeting rooms, the most recent hotel to open in Portland is The Woodlark, a Provenance Hotel. The hotel, which opened in Dec. 2018, was originally two different historic buildings: The Cornelius Hotel and The Woodlark Building. Groups can also opt to rent a private dining room within Bullard’s, the hotel’s Texas-style restaurant.
The 153-room Canopy by Hilton Portland Pearl District opened in June 2018. With 1,095 sq. ft. of meeting space featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, the Canopy can host small meetings. Guests can dine all day long at Canopy Central and the hotel also offers bicycles guests can use for sightseeing.
And these are just a few of the new properties to open in the city.
Coming Soon: Hyatt Regency Portland at the Oregon Convention Center
Today, the largest hotel near the city’s convention center is the 476-room DoubleTree by Hilton Portland, which is four and a half blocks away. Another option for host hotels is the 782-room Hilton Portland Downtown. However, the Hilton is a mile and a half from the convention center, on the other side of the Willamette river.
That will change with the opening of the 600-room Hyatt Regency Portland at the Oregon Convention Center, slated to be unveiled on Feb. 28, 2020. The new property, which is connected to the convention center, contains 32,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Hyatt has already contributed to the city’s economy: More than 30 conventions that include a room block at the yet-to-be-completed property have already been booked, with an estimated total of 140,000 room nights.
The Oregon Convention Center (OCC) itself is also undergoing renovations in the form of a $27 million remodel, which will connect the center to the Hyatt as well as upgrade and improve the venue’s public spaces and bathrooms. The convention center is open during the construction, which is expected to be completed by October of this year.
The facility, which offers 255,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit space and 52 breakout rooms, holds LEED Platinum status. Some of its many environmentally-friendly features include a solar array, rain garden and programs for waste recycling, composting and reusable material donation in conjunction with local nonprofits and community assistance organizations.
In keeping with Portland’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, the remodel contract is the largest public contract in Oregon history to be awarded to a minority-owned business.
Getting Around With Travel Portland
Everett says that Portland is a city that holds interest for many, making it both a draw as an event location and also for attendees who want to explore the local area.
“We find that people will come early and stay late,” she said.
Despite being a large city, Portland is easy to navigate. It’s a walkable destination with an extensive public transit system. Travel Portland makes that navigation even easier, providing complimentary MAX train passes for groups holding events at the OCC.
“We have very few groups that shuttle,” said Everett. “It's really not needed in our city, which makes your event more sustainable.”
Travel Portland is embracing the city’s change and growth. Everett says the destination marketing organization (DMO) is purposefully moving towards becoming a DMMO — a destination marketing and management organization.
The DMMO six-year plan involves celebrating Portland’s unique offerings, telling authentic stories and devoting resources to the city’s future, including upping engagement with the local community.
To learn more about event venues and booking meetings in Portland, go here.
Photo credits: Travel Portland