NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It should come as no surprise that Nashville has solidified its name as a city ready, willing, and capable of hosting events that captivate the nation and beyond. The hospitality industry is at the center of the conversation. Major players are already bolstering business giving Nashville a competitive edge.
The changing skyline is of significant importance to Leesa LeClaire. “When I first came here in 1991, it was a sleepy downtown,” she said.
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Now full of vibrant life, the hotels, mix-use real estate, and convention spaces signify the growth and opportunity for an industry she’s devoted her career to. “It’s a remarkable trajectory that our city has taken,” LeClaire said.
As CEO & President of the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association, she sees even more on the horizon. “One of the reasons we built the Music City Center was to bring that convention business to town.”
The influx of convention visitors fuels revenue for museums, food and beverage, hotel, and transportation.
“That represents about 40% of the business that we have traditionally had and it’s taken a hit after COVID,” LeClaire said, “and that is one of the slower pieces to come back.”
Currently, there are 255 hotels in Nashville and an additional 12 are scheduled to open this year.
“That gives us somewhere around 40,000 hotel rooms to fill just in Davidson County,” she said.
And an additional 7,400 rooms with the new locations.
Include the surrounding counties, LeClaire says, “That puts us on par with an Orlando, which will still be larger than us but puts us a lot closer.”
Meaning the city can comfortably accommodate headline-making events and LeClaire is comfortable courting them.
The key, she says, is prioritizing safety and sustainability. The rest will fall into place. “We have to keep them coming back, and actually, we’re pretty good at it.”