Thanks to one of its latest additions, the Days Inn in downtown Sudbury has become a more competitive option for business travellers and organizations in need of space for conferences and meetings.
Two years ago, the hotel opened the Worthington Room, a space that can accommodate up to 400 people when set up for a theatre-style presentation where all attendees are seated.
“We thought there was a bit of a need for some extra conference space,” said Nadia Pilon, the Days Inn's general manager.
“The two rooms we had at the time just weren't enough.”
The Worthington Room was once a ballroom but was later transformed into an office space before the Days Inn repurposed it.
For years, the Victoria Order of Nurses rented out the space for its Sudbury offices.
But Pilon said using the room as a banquet hall and meeting space once again has helped the hotel attract more business customers.
From Sunday to Thursday, around 60 to 65 per cent of customers at the hotel are there for meetings or conferences.
“That has definitely increased in the last number of years,” said Pilon.
The multi-purpose space, which is free of any pillars, has also been a popular choice for wedding receptions and Christmas parties, Pilon said. Both those uses have increased in the past two years thanks to positive word of mouth, she said.
In addition to the Worthington Room, the Days Inn has four smaller boardrooms suitable for meetings and training sessions.
According to statistics from the City of Greater Sudbury, the recent addition at the Days Inn places it in fourth place – among all Sudbury hotels – for meeting capacity. The Radisson Hotel, also located downtown, can accommodate up to 900 people in a theatre setting, while the Howard Johnson has room for up to 800 people and the Holiday Inn can accommodate 500 conference attendees.
Mike Skuce, general manager of the Howard Johnson Hotel, said the hotel has around 11,000 square feet of meeting space.
The hotel, located on Brady Street, has established itself as a hub for business travellers.
Around 85 per cent of room rentals at the Howard Johnson are from people attending meetings at the hotel, Skuce said.
The majority of meetings at the Howard Johnson, said Skuce, include 20 to 30 people. Around 15 times per year the hotel hosts larger symposiums that span up to three days. The hotel also hosts around five trade shows per year, which typically use around 4,000 to 5,000 square feet of space.
Skuce said the Howard Johnson's meetings and banquet business remained strong in 2013, even though use of guest rooms was down, compared to the previous year.
One new addition to the hotel in 2014 has been an improved Wi-Fi network. When the network was installed five years ago it included six contact points.
As customers have more connected devices, Skuce said increasing the number of contact points, and improving download speeds, was a priority.
With the upgrade, the number of wireless contact points has been increased to 17.
According to Mark Vainio, co-ordinator of Sudbury's event support program, the city's three post- secondary institutions have started to promote their capabilities to host conferences.
“They can offer some additional features like classrooms, labs, and different types of meeting rooms,” Vainio said in an email. “They focus mostly on the summer season when the students are gone and they can offer the residences/accommodations as well.”