Atlanta’s hotel performance increases were smaller in comparison to previous Super Bowl host cities, but the size of Atlanta’s hotel supply means its gains were spread out over more rooms.
BROOMFIELD, Colorado—The numbers are in, and the only thing exciting about Super Bowl LIII was the performance of Atlanta-area hotels.
Since 2011, STR—parent company of Hotel News Now—has looked at the impact on the hotel market of the Super Bowl host city, both in terms of absolute performance and year-over-year change. This was the first year in which STR made a prediction about expected performance. Blake Reiter, director of custom forecasts, prognosticated thusly back in early December:
“Atlanta is a large market with an established base of demand across the transient and group segments. As such, while we do project a significant boost in occupancy for Super Bowl weekend, much of the approximate 350% projected gain in revenue per available room will be driven by ADR growth.”
Reiter predicted with a high degree of accuracy: Atlanta-market hotels ended the weekend with a 387% boost in RevPAR, two-thirds of which was driven by ADR gains.
Our analysis of total performance breaks the data down by the following locations:
- overall Atlanta market;
- the submarkets: Atlanta Airport, Alpharetta North, Buckhead, Atlanta CBD, Chamblee Norcross, Atlanta East, Galleria Marietta, Atlanta Northeast, Atlanta Northwest, Perimeter Center Roswell, Atlanta South, and Atlanta West; and
- the City of Atlanta.
Unsurprisingly, the Atlanta CBD submarket—which contains Super Bowl LIII venue Mercedes-Benz Stadium—achieved the highest occupancy at 96.8% for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights of Super Bowl weekend, followed closely by the submarket of Buckhead. Hotels within the city limits of Atlanta posted a 90.1% occupancy for the three days, while the greater market as a whole—comprising 100,000 hotel rooms—achieved an occupancy of approximately 76%. That's in stark contrast to the same weekend last year, which posted a 54% occupancy.
While absolute average daily rates ranged significantly through the submarkets, hotels in all areas experienced a lift. The Atlanta South hotels experienced the smallest gain in average rates during the Super Bowl, at 63%. On the other of the spectrum, CBD hotels pushed their collective three-day ADR to $638, a whopping 364% gain over last year. Buckhead hotels realized the second-greatest ADR lift for the weekend, at 296%.
In the end, there was really no competing with the Atlanta CBD hotels for total RevPAR gain. With an 812% increase, the CBD hotels increased RevPAR in the league of the Minneapolis CBD hotels (873%) last year, and did it with a lot more hotel rooms to fill. Other areas with gains above the market average include Buckhead, Perimeter Center Roswell, and the City of Atlanta.
Comparing this performance to the performance of the eight previous Super Bowl host cities provides context to just how significant the impact was this year in Atlanta. The following charts examine the comparative impact of all nine host areas, first for the weekend of the Super Bowl itself, and then for the two weeks leading up to the game.
Historical occupancy over Super Bowl weekend
The Atlanta market's Super Bowl occupancy performance was about where we would expect it. As a massive hotel market with 100,000 rooms, it's impossible to achieve the 90%-and-above occupancy levels of much smaller markets, like Minneapolis. Overall, Atlanta's Super Bowl occupancy performance was the second-lowest in the past nine years, edging out only New York (2014).
Average rate over Super Bowl weekend
The $315 ADR reached by Atlanta hotels was slightly below-average for the past nine Super Bowls, and again, this makes sense considering the sheer volume of the market. This performance fell short of Minneapolis hotel's average rate in 2018 ($354), but above Houston's in 2017 ($278).
RevPAR change over Super Bowl weekend
Including this year, the average market RevPAR lift during the Super Bowl weekend over the last nine years was 439%. Atlanta's lift of 387% was below that average, but again, it's about where we would expect it—recall STR's prediction of 350%. The primary factor in determining Super Bowl lift is the size of the market, followed by the seasonality of the market. Markets with many more rooms to fill can end up limited in their RevPAR gains, while smaller markets tend to demonstrate greater pricing power. Indianapolis and Minneapolis are the prime examples of this, with some of the lowest hotel supply and the largest RevPAR increases. Atlanta, conversely, was the second-largest hotel market to host the Super Bowl in the last nine years—trailing only New York—and is primarily why its RevPAR lift was below-average.
Super Bowl weekend RevPAR change relative to market size
Two weeks leading up to Super Bowl
Looking at the markets for a full two weeks prior to and including the Super Bowl, we see yet another story.
The average two-week RevPAR lift over the past nine years is 95%, and again, Atlanta fell below that due to the size of the market. The three smallest markets leveraged greater than 100% RevPAR changes in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, with Minneapolis/St. Paul again taking second after Indianapolis. As with Super Bowl weekend, New York and San Francisco/San Jose saw the lowest RevPAR growth in the lead-in to the Super Bowl, with growth under 35%.
Overall, Atlanta's hotels showed a remarkable ability to capitalize on hosting the Super Bowl, slightly exceeding STR's prediction and nearly quintupling RevPAR for the three-day weekend. Considering the size of the market, that is a remarkable achievement.
Carter Wilson is SVP of consulting & analytics for STR.
This article represents an interpretation of data collected by STR, parent company of HNN. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.