Hoteliers hoping for a Super Bowl bonanza
The game may be in New Jersey, but a lot of the money it brings will be spent in New York.
The NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee projects that the 400,000 visitors expected to flood into the area for Sunday's Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will generate up to $600 million for the ecomony.
Many believe the projection to be inflated, but that's not stopping New York City hotels from hiking rates a to boost bookings during what is historically the slowest time of year. A Sunday night stay for Feb. 2 at the Ace Hotel in the Flatiron District, for example, costs $323, according to its website. Book one month later and your stay on Sunday, March 2 will cost $167.
The Sofitel Luxury Hotel in Times Square, meanwhile, is offering a $100,000 "ultimate Super Bowl package" for 20 people, including 20 tickets in Section 300 of MetLife Stadium, breakfast, group transportation, and 10 luxury suites (double occupancy) for three nights. There are still vacancies throughout the city, but rates are uncharacteristically high.
Last year, NYC hotels were 70 to 75% full in late January and early February, with an average room rate of $190 said John Fox, senior vice-president of PKF Consulting USA (not to be confused with the Broncos coach by the same name. Year-round averages were 84% occupancy and $255 per night, proving that late January and early February are among the slowest in the year, Fox continued. But weekend visitors can expect to pay an average of $290 a night for a room -- and lots of inn keepers are requiring a minimum stay of three nights or so, Fox said.
Yet, the demand for Super Bowl accommodations will be more subdued in the Big Apple than it has been in other cities hosting the big game, and not just because NYC already has lots of hotel rooms (97,042, according to Lodging Econometrics), Fox said. Demand will also be muted because the Super Bowl is a focus of corporate entertaining and many of the high rollers treating their most valuable clients and advertisers to three hours of shivering in the cold already live in the area, as do their Super Bowl guests, he explained.
Many hotels have yet to fill up, but are holding on to their premium prices in hopes of last- minute bookings. "The hotel industry has seen a significant shrinkage in the amount of time in advance in the booking window," in part due to the profusion of apps that allow customers to book at the last minute, Fox noted.
"We're a little bit busier, but not a ton," said Dr. Richard Born, a principal of B.D. Hotels, which has 25 hotels in NYC that are now running at 80% to 85% capacity. "Our rooms were priced a little higher in anticipation, but not egregiously so," he said. "The people who booked ahead at very high rates may be looking around for something a little cheaper," because there is still plenty of Manhattan availability, Born observed. While Born said there will be a lot of local spending on "parties and restaurants and going out," he wondered if all the hype surrounding one of the world's largest sporting events might have scared away "an equal number of people who may have come (to NYC) otherwise."
The New Yorker Hotel,. near Penn Station, had 700 out of 911 rooms booked in large blocks for the Super Bowl by Monday, including a big block that went to 40Seahawks fans. "We have a very good sales director," who began reaching out to vendors, workers, teams, support staff, and "anyone who might be interested," about two years ago, when East Rutherford's MetLife Stadium was chosen as the site of this year's game, said Ann Peterson, the general manager of The New Yorker. "We'll have at least a 30% bump over last year," Peterson predicted. The Super Bowl will not only benefit her property by introducing it to new guests who might be motivated to return, but also benefits employees who might otherwise be furloughed during the slower winter months, said Peterson.
Tip-reliant workers echo Peterson's hopes for Super Bowl prosperity. "I'm hoping it is going to be busy!" exclaimed Franklin Fruto, 43, a doorman standing outside The New Yorker. On the very busiest days when guests relentlessly pour in and out of cabs, he said, he can earn more than $100 a day in tips.