HENDERSONVILLE, Tennessee—Not heat, nor humidity nor act of God could thwart hotel demand during the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention during the past few weeks.
Every four years, the two U.S. political parties stage elaborate conventions to rally their respective troops, bless their platform and anoint their candidate for the presidential election in November. This year, the Republican convention took place in Tampa, Florida, and the Democrats met in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This article briefly examines the impact of these city-wide conventions on hotel performance. Both parties run on a platform of economic stimulus and, as our data shows, at least in their respective convention cities they held their promises.
Hurricane Isaac notwithstanding, the Republican Party met in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention lasted from 27-30 August. According to the GOP convention website, some 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternates attended. This number, however, pales in contrast to the roughly 15,000 credentialed media. In addition, there were 150 staff members. Even though the official start of the convention was moved back, visitors had already traveled to Tampa, so the hurricane-related impact on hotel occupancy was probably negligible.
As expected, the one-time influx of demand was tremendous and roughly 36,000 rooms were sold on average each night, a boost of between 65% and 70% compared to the same nights last year. With the strong influx of demand came a tremendous increase in ADR. Tampa hoteliers charged just less than $94 in 2011, but for the convention week in 2012 their ADR was $188.
On average, the daily rate was more than 130% higher than on the same day in the prior year. High-end hoteliers reported that 55% of their occupancy points were group-related and that the group ADR was $256, 150% higher than for the same week in 2011. Overall, $27 million was spent on room revenue during the four-day event.
Charlotte, North Carolina
The following week, between 4-7 September, the 15,000-strong press corps trekked to Charlotte to join 5,556 democratic delegates at the Time Warner Cable Arena. Charlotte hoteliers reported room demand of approximately 30,000 rooms per night at an ADR of approximately $215. Room demand increased on average 61% year over year, and ADR was 160% higher.
Given the demand surge, occupancy increased to more than 90% over the three-day period compared to just more than 80% in the Tampa area. It is worth noting that the Tampa market has some 44,000 rooms versus the 32,000 in Charlotte. All in all, $19 million was spent on room revenue during the event, generating occupancy and room taxes that are now supporting local infrastructure projects.
In summary, the conventions had a strong impact on the local hotel industry. Room demand and rooms revenue rose to unprecedented levels, and hoteliers saw strong increases in RevPAR when compare to last year. Next year, these comparables will look much less enticing, but for now the hotel industry is basking in the glow of the collective record performance.