On November 1, the Allen County Board of Commissioners passed a new Allen County Lodging Establishment Ordinance stating area hotels and motels must meet “minimum standards of cleanliness and sanitary” beginning January 1, 2014.
Already, meeting planners and sports event planners have applauded the decision.
The new ordinance - the first of its kind in Indiana - was put into motion after Visit Fort Wayne (the local convention & visitors bureau) started to see an increase in complaints from visitors on the cleanliness of their hotel or motel guest rooms. Most of the complaints came from convention and sporting event attendees, who applauded Fort Wayne’s attractions, citizens and hospitality, but were dissatisfied with the cleanliness of the motels they had to stay in when the city was near capacity.
While 95% of the hotel proprieties in Allen County and Fort Wayne consistently exceed the new ordinances sanitation guidelines, a few “dingy and dirty” hotels were damaging Fort Wayne’s positive reputation. Visit Fort Wayne and Allen County officials believed too many negative remarks about Fort Wayne found on traveling websites like Trip Advisor or social media channels were damaging Fort Wayne’s reputation as a family-friendly destination.
To combat the problem, Visit Fort Wayne met with the Allen County Health Department, hotel managers and local business leaders to craft a county-wide hotel ordinance that would put into place “minimum standards of cleanliness” for all Allen County lodging properties. Beyond fire codes, pool requirements, and annual food inspections, there wasn’t a state law or local ordinance to ensure guests receive a clean and sanitary guest room.
Months of meetings to exchange information from hotel property owners, research on what other states do and constructive dialogue between all the parties led to the Allen County Health Department’s recommendations for the new ordinance, which includes incentives for garnering an “A” rating, low remediation fees to fix problems and an annual inspection of 10% of guest rooms in all properties. After an inspection, each lodging property will receive a grade to post at the front desk to inform the traveling public to see before they occupy their room. As stated, 95% of the hotel proprieties in Allen County and Fort Wayne currently far exceed the new ordinances guidelines, but now all properties will have to maintain a minimum standard of cleanlinesss in order to operate in Allen County beginning January 1, 2014.
The adoption of the new ordinance was supported by Visit Fort Wayne’s Board of Directors, the Northeast Indiana Hospitality Association and the Memorial Coliseum.
Visit Fort Wayne believes the ordinance will have a long-lasting influential and positive impact on the city’s convention and tourism industry because the ordinance will:
- Improve guest experience which will encourage return visits time and time again.
- Show that all of Fort Wayne’s lodging businesses are committed to providing clean, safe and affordable accommodations to our city’s guests and visitors.
- Demonstrate to meeting and sporting event planners that Fort Wayne cares and values their opinions to improve the attendee experience.
Several Fort Wayne tourism leaders support the new ordinance and understand its importance moving forward, and even sports organizers have responded positively.
“We have heard from many event clients, exhibitors and guests who have not been pleased with the condition of their lodging establishment. The Memorial Coliseum supports the new County ordinance and we believe that it will be a benefit to everyone.” - Randy Brown, Executive Vice-President & General Manager of Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
“Sixty percent of the zoo’s half-million annual visitors come from outside Allen County, and we know many of them spend the night in Fort Wayne. This new ordinance will help prevent unhappy surprises for some of these out-of-town guests.” Jim Anderson, Director of Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
“The County Lodging Establishment Ordinance that was recently passed in Allen County will benefit groups and organizations who are looking to host events in Fort Wayne and the surrounding area. When I’m seeking a location for our annual meeting, it is important to be able to secure overnight rooms that are clean and safe for our participants. This new ordinance will make it easier to find reliable rooms, both for large groups like us and the individual casual or business traveler”. Rev. Heather Apel, Meeting Planner of ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod Assembly
“The ordinance was set into place to address a growing issue in our community with hotel sanitation and cleanliness. At present, it is only a handful of hotel properties. With the new ordinance, we know with 100% certainty that Allen County and Fort Wayne hotels will be living up to our community’s high standards of quality lodging conditions.” - Gary Shearer, President & CEO of Tower Financial Corporation
“The Shindigz National Soccer Festival welcomes the new hotel ordinance because for the past 15 years we have brought in competitors from coast to coast. We strive to give these visitors a great Fort Wayne experience. This could be severely tarnished if the hotel they stayed in had subpar standards in terms of safety, cleanliness, and professionalism from their hotel or motel of choice. We support this new ordinance.” - Terry Stefankiewicz, Director of Shindigz National Soccer Festival