INDIANAPOLIS—The United States will come to a halt this Sunday evening to celebrate its unofficial annual holiday: The Super Bowl.
The NFL championship football game is being hosted in Indianapolis for the first time in its 46-year history, and tens of thousands of fans will travel to the city to watch the action unfold firsthand.
Hoteliers in Indianapolis also will have ample reason to celebrate with 91.3% of rooms in the region already booked for Super Bowl weekend, according to data from research firm TravelClick.
Data from STR, parent company of HotelNewsNow.com, shows Indianapolis hotels reported 26% occupancy on 6 February 2011, the night of the game last year when it was held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Average daily rate came in at US$62.14 and revenue per available room was US$16.14.
Meanwhile, hotels in Arlington during last year’s big game, had a 92.9% occupancy rate the night of the big game, a 175.2% increase from the same day in 2010, according to STR.
Tim Hart, executive VP of business intelligence for TravelClick, said the Super Bowl this year is most likely affecting a wider geographic area in Indianapolis than it has other host cities because of Indianapolis’ smaller size compared to past Super Bowl cities.
“There’s no availability for quite a perimeter around the city’s towns. If they are open, many of them are selling at very high rates that are clearly associated with the Super Bowl event,” Hart said.
The Super Bowl XLVI roman numerals at Monument Circle in Indianapolis.
Additional data from TravelClick shows rates in Indianapolis are up 199.6% over the same time last year.
The night of the Super Bowl last year in Arlington, ADR shot up to US$248.66, a 324.2% increase from the same night in 2010, and RevPAR increased 1,067.5% to US$231.06, according to STR.
Lack of supply
Ninety percent of the rooms within a 30-mile radius went to the NFL four years ago when the initial bid to host Super Bowl XLVI was contracted. Room rates for that inventory also were determined when the contract was signed.
“When the bid goes in for a community to put themselves up for the Super Bowl, a large part of that bid is all of the rooms they’ve congregated. We committed to our rates four years ago,” said Jeff Good, president of Good Hospitality Services, which manages 13 properties in Indiana.
The NFL takes the rooms and resells them to corporate sponsors and partners, leaving hotels with very few rooms to sell at their own prices, Good said.
Only eight rooms were available for sale at management-set prices at the Good Hospitality-managed Homewood Suites by Hilton Indianapolis Northwest.
Because of the lack of supply, the rooms left on the online travel agencies’ sites are being sold at incredibly high rates, Good said.
A search completed Tuesday for a room on Orbitz returned results for 12 properties with availability out of 244 properties. The closest property from downtown Indianapolis, five miles away, was an America’s Best Inn, charging US$399 for the least expensive room, a 625.5% increase from its usual rate of US$55.
While many hoteliers increased their rates for Super Bowl weekend early on, some blocked out availability at the beginning and opened it again closer to the event to charge even higher rates, Hart said.
Good expects it will be business as usual at Indianapolis’ select-service hotels, but the full-service properties should expect some challenges. “It’s the food-and-beverage component of it and dealing with high crowds,” he said.
Understanding how to deal with the large crowds of people is the main concern for Phil Ray, GM of the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, which is the National Football Conference team’s headquarters in the city.
“Unlike other cities, Indianapolis has a very compact downtown,” Ray said.
He said a handful of task force staff from other hotels was brought on to ensure all the details come together as they host the New York Giants this week.
The hotel also is staffed with additional security to ensure the players, the team’s staff and coaches are secured properly, as well as to make sure nothing unusual happens.
“We are used to doing big events. This is just high profile … so we want to make sure it’s the highest level of quality,” Ray said.
At the Canterbury Hotel, also in downtown Indianapolis, the major challenge is the logistics of staffing for such a major event.
Starr Peterson, director of sales and marketing at the Canterbury Hotel, said the hotel brought on additional staff about a month ago to begin training for the Super Bowl weekend crowd. The hours at the hotel’s restaurants and bars also have been extended for the weekend.
“We’ll be well prepared for everyone’s arrival on Thursday,” she said.