5 Questions with Bruce Sneller, DoubleTree Downtown manager
BY ROBERT EVATT World staff writer
Friday, December 28, 2012
12/28/12 at 5:50 AM
Bruce Sneller is the general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tulsa Downtown, a position he has held since August. In his 30-year-career in the hospitality industry, Sneller has had numerous jobs with Hilton Worldwide, most recently supporting hotels within the Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Hotels & Resorts brands around the globe, including opening hotels in China, the United Kingdom and Panama. Sneller began his career in 1981 in Tulsa at the DoubleTree Downtown as a telephone operator.
1: What kind of impact have the BOK Center and the renovation of the Tulsa Convention Center had on bookings at the DoubleTree?
We've enjoyed a significant increase in business from both venues. Events such as the upcoming Bassmaster Classic would have never happened without the investments made by the citizens of Tulsa. Concert nights at the BOK Center are especially good for us as out-of-town guests utilize the hotel rooms and local residents frequent our food and beverage outlets and use our parking facilities.
2: In your estimation, how dependent are downtown hotels on people coming in for various events?
There's no question the additional events, from concerts at the BOK Center to conventions utilizing the Convention Center, help drive demand for hotel space. Downtown events not only benefit the downtown hotels but provide additional revenues for restaurants, retail and local attractions all over the city. But beyond events, a hotel's long-term success is dependent on a healthy mix of corporate travel, convention business and leisure guests.
3: How have the needs and expectations of business travelers changed over the last decade?
As we all continue to struggle with increased workloads, travelers have higher expectations. While location, product and service are still important, business travelers expect and deserve more. Amenities such as efficient high-speed Internet connections, anticipatory service and an understanding of their specific needs are critical. Hotels have to adapt to being able to offer choices that fit the needs of all types of guests.
4: Tulsa has had a steady stream of new hotel developments in recent years. Is the area in danger of being hotel-overbuilt?
This has always been a bit of a conundrum. More hotels, especially in the downtown area, are needed to attract even larger conventions and more people to visit the city. Beautiful, modern meeting facilities mean nothing if you don't have the hotel rooms to house attendees. However, between events an excess of hotel rooms means less occupancy for all of us. I can't stress enough how important a strong, vibrant hospitality industry is for the city.
5: How do Tulsa-area hotel bookings compare to the U.S. average?
Tulsa has always struggled with occupancy levels, as is the current situation. The industry overall in the country has seen steady growth, with high-demand cities such as New York and Chicago seeing an uptick in growth. I believe 2013 looks to be a better year for Tulsa, and even future years are showing positive signs. That said, the city continues its trend of trailing the average occupancy rates for the nation.
MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World