From March through mid April, hundreds of thousands of college students flock to warmer climates for a weeklong escape from the winter doldrums and pressures of academic life. And while this time of year can bring a spike in hotel occupancy to popular vacation destinations across the country, the traditional spring break party does come with its fair share of challenges and risks for owners. John Laurie, director of the destination marketing and tourism practice at Bond Public Relations and Brand Strategy in New Orleans, shares five factors to consider when determining whether to court the next generation of spring breakers.
To save money, students will often pack as many people as possible per guestroom. That could mean a loss of potential revenue for owners, Laurie says. “Whereas if a family came down, you might get two people to a room, so you’ll have less people and make more money.”
There’s a chance that things will get broken, dirty, or unusable. That’s why Laurie suggests temporarily removing expensive artwork, décor, and flat-screen TVs. “Hotel owners should do what they can to mitigate risk,” he explains.
Local ordinances and zoning laws could affect your business. “There comes a point when residents, business owners, and politicians no longer want those students there, and they will start passing laws like in Daytona Beach or Fort Lauderdale to curb or even eliminate behavior,” Laurie says. “Students will then go to a place where those rules don’t exist.”
A high influx of students does not always guarantee the biggest profits. For instance, Panama City Beach, Fla., is the undisputed mecca of spring break, drawing more than half a million college students each year, but Laurie says it’s not the city’s most profitable time of year. “They actually make more money on hotel tax receipts in the summertime when families come to visit,” he says.
When properly managed, spring break can prove lucrative for businesses. Laurie cites Lake Havasu City, Ariz., as one destination that makes out really well each year. “Their tax receipts are almost as high for spring break as they are for the summer,” he says. “They’ve managed to put together a spring break that mitigates the risk for students, does not annoy the residents, makes money for the businesses, and everyone has a good time. I think it’s all in how you position yourself as a spring break location.”
Photo Credit: Young People on Beach via Bigstock