The Super Bowl Effect

Many cities vie to play host to what is largely considered the biggest sporting event in the world, the Super Bowl. A successful Super Bowl experience is the product of a great pair of teams, a great stadium, and the great preparation by the Super Bowl host city (and its hotels). For the hospitality industry, any major sporting event like the Super Bowl is welcome news—especially for the host city hotels. However, not all Super Bowls are created equal and not all host cities experience the same results.  

Rubicon’s Special Event Insights solution indicates that, for hotels seeking a successful performance in the Super Bowl (or any similar city-wide event), it is key to formulate the right mix of group and transient business, monitor the booking pace, adjust prices, and optimize channel production. The mantra is as simple as 1-2-3: (1) learn from history, (2) plan for the event, and (3) fine tune your plan.

With proper preparation, hoteliers can experience significant gains in occupancy and average daily rate (ADR) not only for the weekend, but also for the extended time period before and after the big event. This year’s Super Bowl XLV was held on Feb. 6 in Dallas, Texas. Three weeks prior to the game, group commitments in Dallas were ahead of where last year’s host city, Miami, was at the same time by 4.9 percent. Transient bookings for Dallas trailed that of Miami by 6.9 percent. 

For the month of January 2011, actual occupancy for Dallas was up 3.6 percent over January 2010. Looking ahead to February and March (as of Jan. 31, 2011), reservations on the books for Dallas are up 11 percent year-over-year, and ADR is up a significant 23.8 percent compared to the same time last year.


From a booking pace standpoint, Miami was significantly ahead of Dallas with an overall occupancy commitment of 16 percent with 12 weeks left before the Super Bowl week compared to 11.5 percent for Dallas. However, Dallas added occupancy at a slightly faster rate of 2.5 percent per week compared to 2.2 percent for Miami.

The average daily rates for Super Bowl host cities are significantly different given the respective markets. The ADR before and after the event provide a good indication of the rate support the market has across the different chain scales. The accompanying graph shows the price ranges observed across all channels for unrestricted rates.  

Winning occupancy during the Super Bowl or other major citywide events is about how well you prepare and how well you play. Well in advance of the event, it is important to evaluate and determine the strategies to put in place for your hotel, i.e., how to best manage group and transient, advance pricing and channel approach. Leading up to the event, it is about monitoring how the plans are unfolding and fine tuning the tactics to set up a winning score.  

Rao Avasarala is executive vice president, enterprise solutions at Rubicon, 

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