As government and community officials pine for another convention center near center city, Oasis Hotel & Convention Center is proving the concept works in north Springfield.
Oasis General Manager Missy Handyside attributes the lodging center’s growth in recent years to a 2011-12 construction and remodeling project that physically attached the hotel and convention center.
“We saw a huge increase in meeting and convention business,” she says. “It has totally changed the meeting planner’s perception of our hotel.”
The Oasis last year produced roughly $7 million in revenue, an 8 percent increase from 2016. Handyside estimates 60 percent of revenue comes from room sales, with 25 percent from convention business and 15 percent from the hotel’s in-house restaurant Fire & Ice.
Oasis sits on a stretch of road with myriad other hotels, making it a competitive corridor for travelers’ business.
Handyside says Oasis stands out with its tropical theme and continued investment from owner Robert Low, the businessman behind trucking company Prime Inc.
“We are blessed with an owner who has invested a lot of money into the property to give it a very good vibe,” Handyside says. “We’re not your standard, cookie-cutter hotel. We have a very unique setup here.”
After the convention center expansion, another change came to Oasis in 2017, when the former Ramada Plaza Hotel & Oasis Convention Center became a member of the Ascend Hotel Collection through Choice Hotels. Through the transition, Handyside says the hotel gained more independence while continuing to offer the resources provided by a larger company, such as a membership privileges program offered by Choice.
“They look for unique, boutique or historical hotels. They look for hotels with personality,” she says, noting in the Ascend line, “there’s not one that’s identical to another.”
In the community, Oasis follows the civic lead of its Prime Inc. parent company.
At the Oasis, an employee-led outreach task force determines what nonprofit organizations the company will support. In 2017, American Red Cross and the American Heart Association were among the benefactors.
Handyside and Low also have appeared in an advertising campaign to support Harmony House, and Handyside has served as a board member on the nonprofit.
On the convention center side, Oasis donates meeting space for free or at reduced prices for causes benefiting the community.
Handyside again points to the impact created by her boss, Low.
“I’ve worked for hotels that the ownership or a management company doesn’t even live in our area,” she says. “With a local owner, he is very present. He’s here. He sees what needs to be done.”
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