Spring Family Weekend brings increased revenue to Corvallis businesses

The Hilton Hotel on 2500 SW 26th and SW Western Blvd is one of ten hotels and motels in the Corvallis area. The Hilton is across the street from Reser Stadium and walking distance to campus, taken April of 2018.

Joe Wolf, Engagement Editor

Hotels, restaurants in particular expect to see large influx.

In 2017 alone, individuals visiting the Corvallis campus and Bend added $42 million to the Oregon economy in purchases relating to lodging, food, travel and other expenditures, said Oregon State University Vice President for University Relations and Marketing Steve Clark. While some of these visitors came for Beaver sporting events, many were to visit OSU students.

“By extrapolation, 2,000 or so visitors attending Spring Family Weekend could contribute more than $160,000 to the local economy—likely much more than that, if they stayed in local hotels or motels for two nights,” Clark said in an email.

If visitors do stay in hotels, the city of Corvallis collects a nine percent rooming tax which goes toward the general fund, said Curtis Wright, the interim executive director of Visit Corvallis, the city’s tourism and promotion department. These dollars go toward police and fire services for the entire community.

“Anytime OSU has parents coming to town is a good week for the city,” Wright said.

One hotel that lodges some of these visitors is the Hilton Garden Inn across Western Boulevard from Reser Stadium, said Assistant General Manager Kyle Byrd. The Hilton’s proximity to campus—and therefore the weekend’s various on-campus activities—plays a role in how much business it does during Spring Family Weekend. 

Each spring, the festivities draw a crowd only comparable with some late season football games and graduation, with the Hilton’s 153 rooms selling out six months in advance for Friday and Saturday nights, Byrd said. Even without booking a room, some visitors coming for the annual event patronize the hotel’s restaurant, which is open to the public as well as guests.

“We are pretty prepared for it now, we staff up and we know what to expect,” Byrd said. “We usually will have a distillery or a brewery come in do samples for the moms, we give out roses, just little fun things like that to try to make all the moms feel as welcome as possible.”

Businesses besides hotels also reap the benefits of Spring Family Weekend. Beyond accommodations, Wright said during a trip to Corvallis two people will spend $409 on average, going toward food, beverages, retail shopping and other services. 

“Parents and relatives are usually more than happy to buy their student what they need when they see their on-campus room or off-campus apartment,” Wright said. 

When parents and relatives are looking to share a meal with their OSU student, one restaurant that has seen a sharp uptick in their business in previous years is Bellhop in downtown Corvallis. Co-owner Ian Hutchings said more than one and a half times the usual weekend crowd comes to try their ‘farm-to-table comfort food.’ The only other comparable events are some Beaver football games and last year’s total solar eclipse.

“We are a pretty inexpensive place to eat, but I think we get perceived as a more expensive place,” Hutchings said. “We definitely see a new mix of people coming in, especially for our brunches.”

Visitors coming in for Spring Family Weekend are not the only new faces the restaurant serves, Hutchings said.

“One of the big questions for downtown businesses is how to peel students away from campus,” Hutchings said. “We have some students who work for us who only come downtown to work, but a lot of times people want to branch out and take their mom somewhere else than what is available on Monroe Avenue or on campus.”

Despite the expected rush, Hutchings said he is not worried about the logistics, as the restaurant’s system of ordering at the register, rather than after patrons sit down, is designed to handle a packed dining room.

“People are only going to wait in line at the register for five to 10 minutes to place their order before sitting down,” Hutchings said. “At a sit-down restaurant, it might be a 45-minute wait to even be seated.”

With a variety of rooming and dining options to choose from, Clark invited students to welcome as many of their relatives as possible to visit Corvallis.

“If you are a family member, explore campus and participate in as many activities as possible,” Clark said in an email. “Please enjoy the weekend and have fun responsibly. And come back to see OSU and your student again and again.”