Florida Hoteliers to Cash in on Super Bowl; Travelers Pay the Price

Agents looking to book clients who want to plan a February vacation to Florida for the Super Bowl XLI festivities shouldn't waste any more time.

Or, agents should perhaps consider encouraging them to start planning for the 2010 Super Bowl there instead.

Travelers might be able to find rooms (although very few are available) for clients at hotels involved in a partnership with the National Football League—an agreement that usually requires participating hotels to place a cap on rooms the weekend of the Super Bowl. If not, travelers could be looking at paying the maximum a hotel is legally allowed to charge.

About a month ago, the Miami Herald reported that Conrad Miami, a downtown business hotel, added more than $1,000 to its mid-January rate, with the cheapest rooms renting for $1,599 during Super Bowl weekend. It was also reported that a Saturday night stay at the 52-room Dorset Hotel in SouthBeach costs $99 in the middle of January and spikes to $800 during Super Bowl weekend. Phone calls made to both hotels were not returned by press time.

"There are a lot of hotels that are looking to take advantage of people," says Kelly Commerford, director of sales and marketing for HyattRegencyBonaventureConferenceCenter and Spa, one of the partnering hotels with the NFL.

"Those hotels are the ones that give all hotels a bad rap," Commerford adds, noting he is not at liberty to disclose price amounts for rooms offered at Hyatt that weekend.

Kathryn Rogers, director of VIP relations and hospitality for the South Florida Super Bowl XLI Host Committee, says gouging is illegal and is prevented by a law requiring all hotels to post their maximum rates for rooms. A hotel cannot charge any more than that rate during the Super Bowl, Rogers says.

Although these prices may fall under the legal umbrella of price hiking, last-minute travelers to the expected party scene may feel like they've been robbed.

The economic impact of a Super Bowl in a host community is reported to be more than $350 million, with an estimated 120,000 visitors converging on the Super Bowl host city. Dolphin Stadium is anticipated to have a Super Bowl capacity of 75,000. Past host cities and NFL estimates indicate that a minimum of 40,000 non-game ticket holders visit Super Bowl cities each year to be a part of the festivities. The average Super Bowl attendee spends four nights in a hotel. Of the attendees, 85 percent are from another state, 70 to 90 percent arrive by plane and the average fan spends $1,500 to $2,000 during his or her stay.

As part of its bid to the NFL, the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee secured 17,500 hotel rooms. Agents can try booking through the online lodging reservation system at www.superbowlxli.org. Rooms are also still available at the HyattRegencyBonaventureConvention Center and Spa and can be booked by calling Susie Beckelheimer, reservations manager, at 954-349-5660.

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