“We didn’t have one huge visible convention last year, like the Democratic National Convention in 2008, however, we had a string of large conventions that together made 2010 a very strong convention and meeting year,” said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Scharf noted that Denver had an especially strong fourth quarter that really helped bring up the annual numbers. “The fourth quarter can traditionally be a slow time for meeting business, but we were able to book a record nine fourth quarter citywide conventions in 2010, which helped grow the entire year,” he said. According to Scharf, the traditional off-season period of November to March offers the most potential for Denver. “Winter is a slow period for Denver hotels, so we have concentrated a lot of our sales efforts on this off-peak period,” he said.

VISIT DENVER also sponsors Mile High Holidays from November to January, Mile High Snowfest in January and Denver Restaurant Week in February and March, all designed to elevate Denver’s brand as a destination in the winter months. January 2011 got off to a strong start with 12,000 conventioneers in for the Allied Social Science Associations convention, followed by the second year for the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Snow Show with its 19,000 attendees. “The 11 year booking of SIA in January, coupled with some other large off-season conventions have helped Denver make the most of our winter months,” he said.

The strong convention year helped Denver hotels see a strong recovery in 2010. Downtown Denver hotels showed an increased occupancy from 63.7 percent in 2009 to 70.3 percent in 2010, while average room rates increased from $140.88 to $147.55. Lodger’s tax collection in Denver was up 12.5 percent, while the all important RevPar (the revenue per room, a figure that combines increases in occupancy with increases in average rate) was up a whopping 15 percent, from $89.79 in 2009 to $103.69 in 2010. That increase was enough to make Denver one of the top five cities in the nation for improving hotel RevPar.

“The even better news is that right now, it looks like 2011 will be just as strong a convention and meeting year as 2010,” Scharf said.

Some of the major conventions in 2010:

· SnowSports Industries America Snow Show in 2010 was the first year of an 11-year commitment, which constitutes the largest convention booking in Denver’s history, with 19,000 attendance for $30 million of economic impact.

· Association of periOperative Registered Nurses had 13,000 attending March 13-18 for $26 million economic impact.

· Heart Rhythm Society had 15,000 attending May 11-15 for $30 million economic impact.

· International Society for Technology in Education had 20,000 attending June 26-30 for $40 million economic impact

· American Academy of Family Physicians had 9,253 attending Sept. 28-Oct. 3 for a $23.9 million economic impact.

· American Public Health Association had 11,500 attending November 6-10 for a $22.9 million impact. · American Society of Nephrology had 13,000 attending Nov. 17-21 for a $25.9 million impact.

· National League of Cities, was a very prestigious meeting for Denver with 4,000 attending for an $8 million impact.