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Management proposal for convention center moved to full council

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After receiving and reviewing two requests for proposals (RFP), the evaluation committee is recommending Spectra Venue Management Company’s proposal to be considered by the full City Council to begin negotiations with City Manager Joe Neeb for operation, sales and marketing of the Roswell Civic & Convention Center (RCCC).

Juanita Jennings, director of public affairs, said the intended move-in date is scheduled for July 1 through Aug. 6, with an opening day for the community on Aug. 14. Jennings said running the facility costs around $363,000 and the average revenue was $44,000 between the fiscal years of 2014 and 2017.

Two proposals were received on Feb. 6 from companies based in Pennsylvania, one is SMG World and the other was Spectra Venue Management. Spectra ranked higher in the evaluation by the evaluation committee. Jennings presented both proposals before the Finance Committee on Thursday morning. Jennings said the original RFP passed by Legal Committee on Nov. 27 with a vote of 4 to 0.

City Councilor Caleb Grant, chair of finance committee, and City Councilors Tabitha Denny and Steve Henderson voted unanimously to approve the proposal to full council on March 15.

Tom McDonnell from Spectra Venue Management introduced himself at the finance committee and said the company will be present for the next City Council meeting.

“We’ve worked in Las Cruces and Clovis for a number of years and we’ve renewed there a couple of times as well,” McDonnell said. “This is the type of communities that we are working in, so we are very excited to have the opportunity to be here today and in the future.”

McDonnell said it has been an exciting process to be a part of because of the renovations and expansions of the RCCC.

Henderson asked if Jennings was able to inquire if the Clovis and Las Cruces convention centers were pleased with Spectra. Jennings said there was an interaction previous to the RFP with a local in Clovis, who now runs that convention center, and said this individual seemed pleased with Spectra’s operations.

Jennings said the first option is city operated, with city personnel and potentially temporary staffing, and option two to have a facility management operate the facility. Spectra Venue Management’s proposal was recommended because of the company’s qualifications and background. Jennings said Spectra has an automated software for bookings and leads, a point-of-sales system, intention to hire locally, and a secured catering and concessions plan.

“They have an infrastructure that meets the operational needs,” Jennings said. “They have identified if they are selected (that) a general manager that is ready to start in the market. They also have support in the close regions and through the country of successful outcomes for the revenues that are very similar to our current situation. Booking is a top priority. Their technology and national network database for lead generations and event procurement is their number one asset. The relationships built and their purchasing power for their exclusive rates for their management software of the facility is already included in the platform.”

Jennings said the biggest difference between the two proposals is that Spectra wants to change the new fee schedule to a transitional fee schedule. Spectra also intends to initially lower the rental fee and charge for food and beverages, which would supply some of the funding. Addressing catering and local restaurants, Spectra’s proposal would have a transitional plan to partner with local catering to operate in the center to start and bring catering in house in a couple of years.

Grant asked about how bookings are going with the implementation of the current fee schedule and Jennings replied that eight events are booked with the loss of two annual events.

“Also what was indicated that maybe some of the costs that we were charging was kind of a shock factor to this community,” Jennings said. “So they would take that into consideration and not charge more initially, but lead up to where both parties can have a successful outcome.”

For the figures in her presentation, Jennings said the numbers were estimates and averages on the proposals, in order to not violate procurement rules. The figures are also subject to future negotiations. The base fee range was $75,000 to $100,000 with a personnel cost of $440,000 to $510,000. A merit-based incentive fee averaged to 35 to 45 percent with a 5 to 7 percent food and beverage fee.

“Their facility management approach was specifically tailored to Roswell,” Jennings said. “We saw the difference between the two proposals that were submitted. The research that they took to come into the market and provide answers for was very tailored to our current hospitality association, our current visitor center, and tourism initiatives. All of those were very obvious in their responses and relevant.”

City reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.