Apparent interest in the Southern Baptist Convention's upcoming annual meeting has necessitated an increase in hotel room availability for attendees the second consecutive year, an event coordinator said.
The SBC Executive Committee has reserved an additional 500 rooms for the 2017 meeting June 13-14 in Phoenix, said Bill Townes, SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention finance. The previously reserved block of rooms, he noted, was fully booked as early as March.
"We often fine tune our hotel blocks as we monitor reservations," Townes said. "Due to strong attendance in St. Louis in 2016, we added some additional hotel rooms early during the reservation process [for last year's meeting]."
Townes anticipates an attendance of between 5,000 to 6,000 messengers in Phoenix, comparable to participation at the 2015 and 2014 annual meetings in Columbus, Ohio, and Baltimore, Md., respectively, he said. The anticipated attendance exceeds the 4,852 messengers who registered the last time the annual meeting was held in Phoenix in 2011. In addition to messengers, Townes anticipates 2,500 to 3,500 guests, exhibitors and other participants, for a total anticipated attendance of as many as 9,500.
"With only two months remaining until our upcoming SBC annual meeting, we are looking forward to a wonderful and prayerful gathering of our Southern Baptist family in Phoenix this summer," Townes said. "Based on advance hotel reservations, I am anticipating that our attendance will be larger than the last time (2011) we were in Phoenix."
The 2016 attendance of 11,581 in St. Louis included 7,321 messengers. A total of 5,407 messengers attended the 2015 Columbus meeting, topping the 2014 Baltimore count of 5,298. Since 2012, messenger registration has fluctuated between 5,103 and 7,874.
In Phoenix, blocks of rooms have been added at five additional hotels near access to the Phoenix Valley Metro Light Rail system, allowing convenient travel to the Phoenix Convention Center at 100 N. Third St.
Reservations are available under the housing and travel tab at SBCAnnualMeeting.net, or by calling the SBC Housing Bureau at 1-800-967-8852. Reservations must be secured by May 17 to receive discounted rates.
The Sheraton Grand Phoenix is the official convention hotel, located a block from the meeting site.
For more details, be sure to visit the Baptist Press website on April 21 for a variety of reports about the upcoming annual meeting.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor.