3Qs: Berkeley Young, tourism research consultant

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

Berkeley Young is the president of Young Strategies in Charlotte, N.C., which specializes in research and strategic planning for the travel industry with a focus on destinations. In the past decade, the company has worked with more than 100 destinations in 26 states. The Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau hired Young to study the lodging industry in Tupelo.
He presented the first part of his findings last month at the CVB’s annual board retreat. He emailed with Daily Journal business reporter Carlie Kollath about some of the study’s highlights.

Q: Do we have too many hotels in Tupelo?
A: The current market research for Tupelo indicates that new hotels are being built because there is traveler demand for the new rooms.
Tupelo’s overall lodging trend is similar to national patterns and is growing steadily in room demand. This is a positive trend and the Tupelo CVB is conducting research and planning to keep the trend positive in the coming years.

Q: Who stays in hotels in Tupelo?
A: A wide range of travelers come to Tupelo during a typical year. Approximately 40 percent of the room nights sold are individual business travelers with the remaining 60 percent occupied by travelers in a group (team sports, meetings, conferences, tours) and leisure visitors.
Local hotels provide a lot of jobs, taxes and overall economic impact for Tupelo. The combined taxes generated by travelers in local hotels and their spending in local restaurants and retailers is substantial.

Q: What can be done to improve Tupelo’s lodging industry?
A: Competition in the marketplace always drives change. The lodging industry has made major changes to the typical hotel room and overall lodging experience in the last decade. Most notable is that limited service hotels now have many amenities typically associated with luxury hotels – granite bathrooms, luxury mattresses, coffee makers, ironing boards, microwave ovens, refrigerators, etc.