Calitri anticpates major losses from Coronavirus pandemic, CVB finding ways to prepare for future

The coronavirus pandemic is expected to cost the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau between $50,000 and $55,000 in lost revenue from its 3% tax on hotel room rentals.
Mark Calitri, president of the CVB, made that prediction Friday during a teleconference with his board of directors.
He said he expects hotel revenues here to fall by 50% this month and 65% in April.
But the CVB gets its money from the tax two months late, Calitri said.
So, the office won’t see the revenue drop until May and June, he said.
“Hotels are definitely feeling the effect of this,” Calitri said. “February and the first week of March were really good. And then, the bottom fell out.”
Both Hampton Inns in Owensboro closed Thursday until the pandemic is over.
But other hotels are still open, Calitri said, and people are still coming to town.
He said the CVB staff is creating plans for a 30-day sprint once businesses reopen, “so we can come out faster” than other CVBs.

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Mark Calitri reports: The nation’s hospitality industry is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

Hotels reeling from pandemic
By Keith Lawrence Messenger-Inquirer Mar 21, 2020 0

The nation’s hospitality industry is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
In Owensboro, Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if our hotels experience a 60% to 70% drop in occupancy (for March) from the previous year.”
He said March 13 was definitely Friday the 13th.

“One hotel reported that they lost over $50,000 in future reservations,” Calitri said. “That’s in one day! This type of news indicates to me that April results could be worse.”
The American Hotel and Lodging Association, the largest trade association for the hotel industry, said in a news release, “The economic impact on the hotel industry is already more severe than the 9/11 and 2008 recessions — combined.”
Calitri said, “We were anticipating a record-breaking March and April this year. We’re trying to rebook as much as we can for later.”
More than a dozen events have been affected in just those two months, he said.
“With the April cancellations of the All A Boys Baseball Championship, All A Girls Softball Championship, 2A Boys and Girls state championships and Mid-South Conference Tennis Tournament, the Daviess County economy lost an estimated impact of at least $635,000,” Calitri said.
That includes hotels, restaurants, service stations and other parts of the tourism sector.
“The impact of the coronavirus on Kentucky’s travel and tourism industry has been devastating,” Hank Phillips, president of the Kentucky Travel Industry Association, said in an email. “There is no sugarcoating it.”
“Leisure and business travel and meetings and events have come to a virtual standstill,” he said. “Our industry was the first to be impacted and therefore has been dealing with the business effects the longest and most deeply. In the face of that, I have been overwhelmed by the concern being shown by tourism business owners, CEOs and general managers for their employees and their families, and for the communities where their businesses are located.”
Tourism had an $11.2 billion impact on Kentucky last year, Phillips said, with 95,000 jobs and $800 million in state and local taxes.
The local CVB operates on a 3% tax on hotel room rentals.

Madison Silvert, president of the Malcolm Bryant Corp., which owns both Hampton Inn hotels in Owensboro, said, “Although occupancy is down, our commitment to our people has been to not cut hours. We are using this time to make each property sparkle beyond even the high levels we are accustomed, and to train our people to be better prepared for when occupancy returns. Our plan is to come out on the other side of this better than ever while maintaining our commitment to our employees.”
He said, “From a guest standpoint, we are taking every precaution that they have an incredible and, above all, safe stay. Increased sanitization standards are present throughout our properties, even beyond what Hilton has suggested.”
Silvert said, “We need to continue to find new ways to create experiences for visitors and business travelers that keep people coming to Owensboro and coming back to Owensboro. Each person who visits here is a potential return visitor, future investor, or future Owensboroan.”
Claude Bacon, vice president of sales, e-commerce and administration for Owensboro-based LinGate Hospitality, which operates the Holiday Inn and Courtyard Suites by Marriott, said, “The Covid-19 crisis is clearly the most challenging time in the hotel industry. Occupancy levels have greatly decreased. Our main concern is the impact on our employees and look forward to the day when we can return to pre-Covid employment levels.”
An Oxford Economics study on travel industry losses predicts “a 31% decline for the entire year — including a 75% drop in revenue over the next two months and continued losses over the rest of the year reaching $355 billion.”
“We project the U.S. economy to enter a protracted recession based on the expected downturn in travel alone. The recession is likely to last at least three quarters with the lowest point in the second quarter of 2020,” it said.
The study projected a decline of $55 billion in taxes this year and a loss of 4.6 million jobs.
“What we need right now is analogous to the term ‘bending the curve’ that we hear about slowing the spread of the virus enough that our hospital facilities and our heroic health care providers are not overwhelmed,” Phillips said.
“On the tourism business side, we are trying to bend a curve, too,” he said. “We are seeking federal support of the industry that will bend our curve upward just enough that we will still be here when people are able to start traveling again. And that’s the one thing we know for certain — people will travel again and we will be here to be at their service.”
Calitri said, “It would be irresponsible to continue tourism marketing and promotion during this time of uncertainty. The Kentucky Department of Tourism led by Commissioner Mike Mangeot has officially suspended marketing and advertising for 30 days.”
But, he said, “Once this threat subsides, our No. 1 priority going forward is creating more reasons for people to come and spend money. The CVB is working with our clients and tourism partners to weather this storm and look to rebook as many groups as possible.”
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com


Mark Calitri reports: Hotel closings are going to require real leadership when we move out of the Covid-19 crisis

Hampton Inns closing Thursday until pandemic over
By Keith Lawrence Messenger-Inquirer Mar 25, 2020 0

The Malcolm Bryant Corp. will put all of its hotels — including both Hampton Inns in Owensboro — on hiatus from 3 p.m. Thursday “until it is safe again for employees to return to work,” the company announced Tuesday.
It was the first such announcement by a hotel in Owensboro during the current coronavirus pandemic.
Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said he hasn’t heard of any other hotels that plan to close.

TownePlace Suites by Marriott announced on its Facebook page Tuesday that it is staying open.
Madison Silvert, president of the company, said, “This is purely a precautionary measure for our team members. We made a commitment not to reduce our employees’ hours early on. That was not an easy financial decision to make, but we made it work. There came a time, as our understanding of the coronavirus became clearer and cases were getting closer to home, that we began to think of putting our hotels on a temporary hiatus for the good of public health.”

He said, “Employees’ financial health remains a priority as well. We have been in direct contact with the state workforce cabinet at the highest levels to ensure that our employees will not see any disruption or delay in their pay. We always put our team members first, and we want to make sure that they are healthy and ready to return to work when this pandemic is over.”
Silvert said, “However, we have a duty to the public as well, and we believe this is the right thing to do to help reduce public gathering and the eventual burden on our health care resources.”
The company’s hotels include the 150-room Hampton Inn and Suites Owensboro-Downtown/Waterfront, the 86-room Hampton Inn Owensboro South and the Hampton Inn Louisville Northeast.
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com


Mark Calitri reports: Secrets to Winning in Turbulent Times

Mark Faust, international business leader and turnaround guru provides guidance for our business leaders and elected officials during this time of turmoil and uncertainty. Yes, elected leaders have ‘customers’… its us, the taxpayer!
How do you feel about “your” economy right now? Regardless of whether you see it as up or down, is your effort to innovate consistent, or does it undulate with your industry’s economic tide?
Let’s look at the big picture you’re painting as well as how your innovativeness can spur growth regardless of the economy.
Relative to the big picture, the first mistake many businesses make is around how their vision, purpose or cause is too abstract and ill focused. For example, how often have you heard a vision that includes, “to become a global leader in our industry…” This is not a “cause” or an inspirational vision, because it is not about another human being; these statements are often about the personal self-interest of a detached CEO. A cause requires a focus on another human being, and ideally creates clear pictures about exactly how and who you serve.
It is interesting how misdirected visions impede innovation and the value delivered a customer.
Do you have the “ADDING VALUE FOCUS?” There is only one secret to business, ADD MORE VALUE! How much intensity of focus do you, and your team put on innovatively adding more and more value? Do you have any objectives in your plan to add more VALUE and is there any type of measurement of how much more you aim to add, or have added? This sounds too simple to most people, but this is the difference between a business that grows during a down economy and one that cuts and runs in fear.
What are the results or level of results that you produce for a customer that no one else does? How do you or how can you produce results that no one else is producing? Do you even ask those questions regularly throughout your team?
A favorite conversation I had recently was with a grower who farms tens of thousands of acres. I asked him about how he is looking at the imminent future with such a “bad” ag economy, and his answer was inspiring. “Mark a winter is coming, and I’m going to flipping own it!”
What’s your attitude going to be as you weather tougher times? Are you and your team looking at how you’re going to own it and grow, or are you cutting and running?
Remind your team that leadership in frigid economies is not just the responsibility of just those at the top; it is a responsibility of everyone throughout the organization, a mission they must take up together and vigorously and constantly be asking themselves and your customers about how your company can create more value.

Much more leadership guidance at



Mark Calitri: CVB to help community amid cancellations, closures

Mark Calitri: CVB to help community amid cancellations, closures
The Owensboro-Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau is monitoring the COVID-19 situation week-by-week but said they will be making some changes in the meantime.
According to CVB President & CEO Mark Calitri, the Kentucky Department of Tourism has suspended all marketing for the next 30 days. With restaurants limited to delivery and drive-thru options, Calitri said the CVB is working to help local businesses survive this possibly months-long partial closure.
“We are currently launching a campaign through social media to encourage Daviess and surrounding County citizens to help our community stay strong and order takeout during this difficult time,” Calitri said.
Though the CVB office will be open during this time, the visitor center will be closed to the public. Calitri said they are taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of others and themselves.
Currently, the CVB is facing the same level of uncertainty that many other agencies across the state and country are facing. Many upcoming events scheduled to take place in Owensboro have been canceled, Calitri said, but he will continue to touch base with those organizations in the coming days.
“Our jobs this week are to work closely with our customers to handle their needs as most are canceling sports events and meetings, but some are opting to postpone and reschedule,” he said.

Visit Owensboro is the official destination marketing organization for Owensboro and Daviess County Kentucky. www.visitowensboro.com Mark Calitri serves as President/CEO.


Mark Calitri: Hotels see higher revenue!

Mark Calitri: Hotels see higher revenue!
Calitri says, tourism is key to Owensboro’s success because the more outside money you can bring in, the better it is for everybody. Many of our industry partners are experiencing growing numbers in attendance, setting record-breaking totals at ROMP and O.Z. Tyler. We need to keep the gas pedal on demand generators and continue to find reasons for people to visit.

Visit Owensboro is the official destination marketing organization for Owensboro and Daviess County Kentucky. www.visitowensboro.com Mark Calitri serves as President/CEO.


Mark Calitri: Kind Words from Visit Owensboro board of directors

Mark Calitri: Kind Words from Visit Owensboro board of directors
Visit Owensboro recently planned and executed the 2A Girls/Boys State Basketball and Cheerleading Championships, which took place at the Owensboro Sportscenter.
If you did not get a chance to attend, you missed the performance of outstanding high school student-athletes, showcasing their unique skills. Several of the high school students have already signed Division I scholarships and many visited our local colleges during their stay.
The organization and quality of the athletic events impressed everyone involved; however, the games and competition champions only tell a piece of the story, because the big winner was Owensboro-Daviess County. Ninety percent of the hotel rooms were occupied, and industry experts predicted the event would create at least a $500,000 impact on the local economy.
Along with visitors experiencing our wonderful community, they got to hear an expert bluegrass musician, Chris Joslin, play the national anthem on a banjo.
Finally, a big thank you to the Visit Owensboro team that made this event a reality, which includes Mark Calitri, president/CEO, Dave Kirk, destination management, Chris Gendek, destination services, Jared Bratcher, sports director, and Judy Peters, visitor services. They did all the hard work, marketing, preparation and on-site labor that made this event an overwhelming success.
On behalf of the board of directors and all our citizens, we thank you for your commitment, contribution and dedication to making our community a better place to visit, work and live.
Visit Owensboro Board of Directors

Visit Owensboro is the official destination marketing organization for Owensboro and Daviess County Kentucky. www.visitowensboro.com Mark Calitri serves as President/CEO.


Mark Calitri reports: 31,000 to attend 25 events in 21 days

Mark Calitri reports: 31,000 to attend 25 events in 21 days
Spectra, the company that manages both the Owensboro Convention Center and the Sportscenter, is expecting the next three weeks to be among the busiest of the year.
Laura Alexander, general manager for both facilities, said she expects more than 31,000 people to attend more than 25 events in the two facilities during the next 21 days.


Visit Owensboro is the official destination marketing organization for Owensboro and Daviess County Kentucky. www.visitowensboro.com Mark Calitri serves as President/CEO.


Mark Calitri: The world’s only Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame named fifth favorite music museum in nation

Owensboro’s Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum placed fifth among 20 contenders for the title of America’s favorite music museum Friday.
That ranked it ahead of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, both of which failed to crack the Top 10.
Other museums competing were the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas; the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville; the GRAMMY Museum L.A. Live in Los Angeles; the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum; Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle; the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix; the National Blues Museum in St. Louis; the National Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota; the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland; and the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The results of the contest were announced the day before PBS stations across the country were set to begin airing “Bluegrass Now!,” a bluegrass concert recorded at the Hall of Fame in December.

Visit Owensboro is the official destination marketing organization for Owensboro and Daviess County Kentucky. www.visitowensboro.com Mark Calitri serves as President/CEO.