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Rising to the challenge: Area hoteliers and Buda chamber meet in inaugural roundtable

The Buda Area Chamber of Commerce started the New Year off by hosting an inaugural industry round table meeting of all Buda and Kyle area hoteliers Jan. 9.

BACC Managing Director J.R. Gonzales gathered together the group of hotel managers and owners to discuss areas of interest or concern. The hope was to address the issues in order to make their businesses more successful.

Lysa Gonzales, Buda director of tourism, said there are currently 12 hotels that are planning to come to Buda soon. (photo by Samantha Smith)

Lysa Gonzales, Buda director of tourism, said there are currently 12 hotels that are planning to come to Buda soon. (photo by Samantha Smith)

Joining the hoteliers were city staff members along with Buda Police Department chief Bo Kidd.

“The goal of the Chamber in 2017 is to reach out to businesses to see what we can do for them so for lack of a better term this is the first industry round table in pursuit of that goal,” J.R. Gonzales, BACC director, said.

Lysa Gonzales said there are currently 12 hotels that are planning to come to Buda soon. She said Buda’s Economic Development department is also funding a convention center study, which will assess the city’s need for a convention center. The study is projected to be finished in three months.

The hoteliers agreed that Buda lacks some features that other cities have in order to attract visitors, such as an amphitheater or a convention center, where large amounts of people would need lodging accommodations.

Kidd addressed hoteliers’ concerns over the recent rash of vehicle burglaries in hotel parking lots.

“As a community grows the crime grows with it,” J.R. Gonzales said.

Rahj Patel, owner of the Holiday Inn Express, asked Kidd about the decline of regular police patrols at hotels, which was seen as a deterrent for crime.

Kidd said the lack of manpower meant a deeper strain on security measures like regular patrols through all hotel parking lots.

“We have a total of 12 officers handling around 1,000 calls a month. So when we recognize patterns, we deploy additional resources, but until then, we are short on manpower.” Bo Kidd, Buda Police chief

Kidd also asked hoteliers to have good quality security cameras in order to prevent crime at their properties.

“We do the best we can with what we have,” Kidd said, “At the same time some of the things you can do yourselves is have a good security system. Have a video camera, proper lighting, maybe a maintenance man or security guard in the lobby.”

Kidd also mentioned that vehicle burglaries were prevalent at one Buda hotel, which he attributed to the facility only having one working camera. Kidd also cited an uptick in vehicle burglaries around the holidays in Buda.

“Bad guys are going to be looking for soft, easy targets,” Gonzales said, “Some responsibility may lie with the hotels themselves in either better cameras, communication among staff and other hotels and law enforcement.”

The round table discussion also identified three areas for the Chamber and the city to work on in the future.

Signage, along with proper lawn grooming near hotels were discussed. In addition, hoteliers opted to possibly create a committee to advise council on the maximum number of hotels allowed in Buda at any given time.

It was unanimously decided that the Chamber would host a monthly industry round table, in order to foster more communication among local hoteliers, the city and the chamber.

“We’re here to help in any way”, J.R. Gonzales said.

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