Milwaukee has five new hotels in the works. That’s not including hotels opened in the last couple years, and updates to existing hotels. All-told, the new developments will add hundreds of hotel rooms to downtown Milwaukee. But what’s who’s filling these hotel rooms, and what’s driving the ever-changing landscape of hotel real estate?
“I think it comes from the fact that over the past few years there’s been great growth in revenue, and great growth in demand,” says Paul Upchurch, CEO of Visit Milwaukee.
The recent explosion of new hotel developments in downtown Milwaukee is a response to increased tourism and an insufficient supply of hotel space. But Upchurch is looking cautiously at the future.
“So far we’ve been able to keep up with the supply growth, but we’ve got to be concerned going forward that we’ve got a plan to increase demand as well,” he says.
One of the key elements to increasing Milwaukee’s demand could be expanding the city’s convention center, Upchurch says, which could help bring more year-round business into the downtown area.
Upchurch believes that Milwaukee isn’t keeping pace with other cities of its size. “Many cities have continued to expand their hotel offerings and their convention center,” he says. “We’ve become the smallest of our competitive set. So when you look at cities like Cleveland, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Detroit, cities that we compete with regularly, we are now the smallest convention center in that group.”
Other key components could be completing the Bucks’ new arena and new developments on Milwaukee’s lakefront.
“We’ve got so many things here to offer, when you look at us compared to many other cities,” says Upchurch. “The lakefront, the restaurants, the arts and culture, the phenomenal tourism venues that we have. We’ve really got a story to tell.”