Hotels must know something we don’t know

Published 11:55 pm Thursday, September 27, 2007

The science of attraction is a complicated thing.

What make one person attracted to another? What is that one thing that causes a person’s head to turn?

Who really knows?

Email newsletter signup

The same questions might come to mind with the high stakes dating corporate world.

What makes one area of the country attractive one year to a company, when it has been available for years.

I don’t know about you, but when I read one of Thursday morning’s headlines, I was left scratching my head wondering such questions.

There it was staring me in the face as I stumbled up the front steps of my house Thursday morning.

“Holiday Inn commits to Riverfront”

Holiday Inn announced Wednesday evening at the Vidalia Riverfront Authority meeting that they plan to build a 100 room hotel on the south side of the Mississippi River Bridge.

Yet again, another national hotel chain is planning on building a hotel in the area.

They are popping up all over the Miss-Lou like rabbits.

Vidalia officials are celebrating another major development along the city’s riverfront.

Mayor Hyram Copeland says 50 to 75 employees will likely be hired at the new full service hotel.

Built near the Vidalia convention and conference center, the hotel will be another addition to the rapidly growing competition between the cities of Vidalia and Natchez.

Look around the area and you will find construction crews building one hotel in downtown Natchez, one hotel near John R. Junkin Drive, one hotel at the site of the old Ramada Inn Hilltop and now another hotel is planned for the Vidalia Riverfront.

How many hotel rooms can the area support?

That is one question that came to mind when I opened up the paper on my door step. But it wasn’t the only one.

Exactly where are the people coming from who will fill all of these hotel rooms that are being built?

For two years, I worked as an intern offering architectural services to Wal-Mart and other national retail stores.

In the first couple of months of talking to corporate executives, I quickly learned that these mega-companies do not make decisions on a whim.

Companies such as Wal-Mart, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn use pages and pages of marketing studies to determine in which areas of the country they will invest.

As an architect, I was privy to confidential documents that Wal-Mart released on a quarterly basis that listed all of the stores that it planned to build over the next three years.

The list included all of the necessary requirements a project had to meet before final approval.

Marketers, real estate appraisers, economists were all hired to look at the demographics of communities across the country to determine which areas matched up with a corporation’s financial goals.

It was a high-tech computer dating service for retail corporations.

That is why I found myself wondering what has suddenly turned Natchez, Vidalia and the surrounding area into one of the cutest girls every company wants to date.

In the 15 or so years that I have known Natchez, the number of hotels has changed little. In that time few national chains considered building in the area.

Now in 2007, four hotels are slated to be constructed in the area.

Was it Hurricane Katrina, the four-laning of U.S. 84., the two convention centers or a combination of all of these events?

What was the tipping point that suddenly made Natchez stand out?

It must be something.

Whatever it is, all signs point to a bright future for the area and hotels together.

Hopefully it will be a match made in heaven.

BEn Hillyer is The Natchez Democrat web editor. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at