Omni Sold Out to Host First Big Convention

10,000+ Librarians Descend on Convention Center, Hotel

By Julie Tam
|  Sunday, Jan 22, 2012  |  Updated 9:19 AM CDT
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The hotel is serving as the headquarters for a convention for the first time.

Julie Tam, NBC 5 News

The hotel is serving as the headquarters for a convention for the first time.

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The Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas is hosting its first major convention since it opened late last year. It's a big financial boost to the city but also a test to see if Dallas will be successful in attracting conventions in the future.

More than 10,000 people and 1,200 meetings and events during a 4-day conference. It's enough to fill a convention center and a hotel.

"We're geared, ready for business, and certainly we can handle the volume that came through," said Nils Stolzlechner, the hotel's general manager.

Librarians from all over the world are in Dallas for the American Library Association's midwinter meeting. It's their first time back since 1989 -- almost 25 years ago.

"It wasn't our most successful, happy experience. But this is fundamentally a good city. We kept watching it," said Mary Ghikas, the ALA's senior associate executive director.

When they saw that the Omni Hotel would be ready to welcome them in 2012 with a convenient place to stay, they booked the entire hotel and are spending more than $6 million while they're here. The city of Dallas couldn't be happier.

"It takes a little while to lose your business. In the late 90s, it was apparent that we lost our business. To get it back takes even longer," said Stolzlechner.

Convention planners say an important feature is the sky bridge connecting the hotel with the convention center so people can go from their room right to the exhibits.

"If you were lucky enough to get a reservation at the conference hotel, where you can just run up and drop things off, makes a huge difference, I think, in how comfortable and happy you are at your meeting," said ALA member and convention goer Terrilyn Chun.

It's likely the American Library Association will come back to Dallas. And it's certain the Omni will attract more big events.

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