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New Orleans hotels get Super Bowl boost
January 31 2013

Hoteliers in the Big Easy project packed houses and strong rates for Super Bowl weekend.

  • Committed occupancy and ADR are up 51% and 126.9%, respectively, for the Friday-to-Monday period this weekend, according to TravelClick.
  • The Super Bowl comes on top of a high-demand Mardi Gras period in the city.
  • Communication is key when preparing for such a large event, sources said.

NEW ORLEANS—The United States’ Big Game is providing a big boost to hotel performance in host city New Orleans, where hoteliers are projecting significant increase in demand.

Committed occupancy and average daily rate are up 51% and 126.9%, respectively, for the Friday-to-Monday period this weekend, according to TravelClick.

Super Bowl XLVII, held Sunday, 3 February in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, will pit the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers against the Baltimore Ravens.

“We’ve been sold out for just a little over a week now,” said GM Stephen Borecki of the 140-room New Orleans Courtyard Downtown, one of six Courtyard by Marriott hotels in the Greater New Orleans area. Courtyard by Marriott is the official hotel partner of the NFL.

“We are totally sold out at all of our Courtyards in the market,” added Janis Milham, Courtyard’s vice president and global brand manager.

The same is true for much of the city.

“Our hotels are at 99.4% full last check,” said Mavis Early, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association.

The demand uplift comes in the middle of Mardi Gras season for the city, a period of typically strong performance. But even still, demand from the Super Bowl is above and beyond what hoteliers typically see.

“The Friday, Saturday are occupancy-wise much busier than even a weekend before Mardi Gras because of game day,” said Stanley Mascair, GM of the 100-room Quality Inn & Suites on O’Keefe Avenue.

Rates, he said, are also higher.

But not as high as they could be. A significant number of roomnights in the market are contracted out ahead of time to the NFL, which negotiates ADR as far as a year in advance.

“Typically, when the NFL comes into a smaller market like ourselves compared to a Dallas or so, in order to secure rooms for the Super Bowl, this is done pretty much over a year out, and what the NFL will do … is they’ll contract 90% of our rooms. That leaves 10% of our inventory to sell to the general population,” Borecki said.

ADR increases in the most recent three host cities—Indianapolis, Indiana; Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; and Miami—have ranged from double- to triple-digit increases, according to STR, parent company of

Managing major events
New Orleans is no stranger to hosting Super Bowls, having held nine previously, the most recent of which was in 2002.

And when not welcoming the Big Game, the city’s hoteliers have their fair share of experience managing large events. During the past 12 months alone, New Orleans welcomed college football’s BCS NCAA Football Championship, both the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Final Four basketball games, Mardi Gras and countless music and food festivals.

“This city is very fortunate in this market that it almost seems like every weekend there’s some festival that’s going on. As a city and as Marriott as a whole, this is something that we go through on a yearly basis. There’s several repeat events that we go through … which everyone has a routine and all the systems and procedures to get through this,” Borecki said.

“When you get to an event like the Super Bowl, there is a little bit more that goes into it just due to the magnitude of everything,” he added.

The city’s Courtyard team has been working with each other and Marriott’s corporate office for more than a year, holding in-person meetings and weekly calls to share best practices and make sure everything has been accounted for, Milham said.

“It’s just logistics. Did you get your invitations? Did you get your shirts for all your associates to wear?” she said.

Communication is a must, said Milham, who was a GM in Scottsdale when the city hosted the 2008 Super Bowl—a sentiment which Borecki confirmed in a separate interview.

“Really, the biggest piece is just being able to have that open line of communication with your staff and your fellow peers and people around the city,” he said.

The New Orleans hotel association has helped facilitate back-and-forth exchanges between the city’s hoteliers during the past year, Early said.

“We’ve been sending out a tremendous amount of information to them from progress on construction projects in the city over the last 12 months to keep them posted. And then closer in the progress with the additional streetcar line. That is now complete. We also send out a lot of security information. We had a lot of meetings to coordinate with all levels of law enforcement.

“When you have this many people coming into town, you have to be prepared for everything,” she said.

At the Quality Inn, for example, Mascair has found it challenging simply getting his associates on property. Access to the hotel, which is eight blocks from the Superdome, continues to be restricted as the security zone around the stadium expands in the days leading up to opening kickoff.

Ensuring each hotel is properly staffed is one of the most important considerations, Milham said.
Asked what else should top a GM’s Super Bowl to-do list, she responded: “And just make sure to have fun. People aren’t there for business so much. They’re there to have a good time and have a little vacation.”

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