CON: What if economic boom ends?

July 24, 2011 at 2:24 a.m.
Updated July 25, 2011 at 2:25 a.m.

The hotel business was booming as Victoria and surrounding areas benefited from oil and gas activity.

That was 1981.

The next year, the region's oil and gas industry was in a slump, along with the hotel business.

One hotel owner remembers that time all too well.

"The oil boom comes overnight and the oil boom goes overnight," said Vinod Patel, owner of the Econo Lodge.

Victoria hoteliers rented out 367,300 rooms in 1981, according to Source Strategies, Inc., which provides hotel statistics and analysis.

That dropped to 301,200 rooms in 1982.

But a worse hit to the region's oil and gas industry came three years later.

The Advocate reported on Oct. 20, 1985, that "an untold number of oil and gas companies have consolidated operations or gone bankrupt."

The hotel industry soon had its own problems.

Whereas 216,600 rooms were sold in 1985, only 158,300 rooms sold the next year. The numbers didn't get above 200,000 again until 1991.

During that time, Patel said his hotel sold only two to three rooms some nights. It wasn't even enough to cover his electric bill.

He laid off workers and his family managed the hotel.

All this has made Patel weary of a new hotel based on recent economic activity.

Others have their own worries about increased competition.

Christy Gonzales, general manager of Victoria Super 8, said that if another budget-type hotel comes into town, then she would have reason to worry.

"This city is not big enough to support two Super 8's," Gonzales said.

Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp., said there was no way to predict the production of oil and gas. But he said that manufacturing industries like Caterpillar would protect Victoria from another oil and gas bust.

Patel also said that his customers leave during the weekend for nearby metro cities. Hotel owners rely on their weekend sales as well as weekday sales, he said.

Even one more hotel would hurt some hotel already in Victoria, Patel said.

"Any hotel that will come in town will hurt another hotel," he said.

"They may not feel it right now, but they'll feel it in a few years."



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