Posted at 3:24 p.m. on July 25, 2014
Step off your flight, walk a short distance, and board a rail system that takes you to a downtown hotel to start your vacation or your business meeting. That’s an ideal that some American cities, such as Seattle and Chicago, attain but others, such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando, do not.
In the nation’s capital, even with the opening Saturday of the Silver Line, not until 2018 will travelers be able to get directly from Dulles airport in Virginia, where most international visitors arrive, to downtown Washington.
A study issued last November by the American Public Transportation Association and the U.S. Travel Association found that for cities with direct access to airport terminals via rail, “hotel performance was on average 10.9 percent better in terms of both average daily rate charged for hotel rooms and revenue earned per available room.”
The report argued that:
the availability of rail access to airport terminals can actually strengthen the attractiveness of destinations overall as well the performance of [hotel] properties near rail stations – particularly when it comes to welcoming meeting and convention attendees.
“Seamless mobility is what international travelers expect when they arrive in a major world city,” said Erik Hansen, senior director of domestic policy at the U.S. Travel Association.
“When you land in places like Singapore or Dubai, you’re able to get downtown sometimes not even having to step outside … that’s what global business travelers have come to expect,” Hansen said. “And we are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to things like international meetings and conferences.”
He added, “A lot of meeting planners are not going to want to put 20,000 international delegates all in rental cars or taxi cabs when they arrive for a big meeting or conference.”
That’s why completion of the Silver Line to Dulles means so much to Washington D.C.
Elliott Ferguson, the president and CEO of Destination D.C., the city’s convention and visitors bureau, said, “The fact that the nation’s capital will have connectivity from Dulles into the city and, of course, to Reagan National Airport, if travelers are going from Washington to other places in the U.S., is a big deal for us. This puts us in the same position as other first-tier destinations.”
"Seamless Mobility": Not There Yet, But Will Pay Off Once We Arrive