Making a hotel successful in its first few months isn't easy, particularly when you can't advertise. But skillful deployment of specialty marketing and a location that looks like a natural have helped The Inn at USC do just that.

Since Jan. 1, the 117-unit Inn at the University of South Carolina in Columbia has exceeded both its financial and occupancy goals. A joint venture of Bert Pooser's Interstate Management and Investment Corporation and the university's development foundation, it encountered stiff opposition from local hoteliers who said it would infringe on their privately owned businesses and neighborhood advocates worried that commercializing the property would compromise its historical character.

The university and Pooser agreed to the advertising restriction in order to get the property built. It's been doing well since it opened.

“I had to fight the local hospitality association,” says IMIC President and CEO Pooser. At the same time, he had the university behind him; the USC Development Foundation had purchased the property several years ago.

Pooser converted the old Pendleton Street residence into the lobby and registration area of his new hotel. And by agreeing to not make it a franchise and to refrain from advertising, he appeased the local hospitality association.

Now that the hotel is a success — largely due to marketing it through various university publications — everybody's happy, Pooser says.

Hard feelings? Pooser is polite. “It took me two years to put this together,” he says of his $13.5-million project.

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