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Volume 20 No. 41
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Need a room? That’s no problem in NYC

Call it the NFL’s law of lodging: A hotel in the Super Bowl city is always tougher to find than a game ticket. It’s simple supply and demand. There are always more tickets than hotel rooms.

Not so this year.

With the Super Bowl being played in New Jersey, a mere dozen miles from Manhattan, hotel rooms in New York City are as easy to find as a subway stop. The customary four-night Super Bowl hotel minimum has been cut to three.

File all those stories about people renting their homes near MetLife Stadium for thousands of dollars under Urban Legend.

“This is the easiest market for [Super Bowl] hotel rooms ever,” said Kit Geis, senior vice president at Genesco Sports Enterprises, which is securing around 300 New York City hotel rooms for clients, including NFL corporate sponsors Pepsi and Campbell Soup. “This is all about inventory and demand, and New York City definitely has hotel inventory.”

As examples, Geis noted that at last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans, one NFL sponsor was paying $450 a night for the Marriott on downtown Canal Street for a four-night minimum. This year, for $100 less per night, the sponsor has rooms with a three-night minimum at the far-swankier Parker Meridien in midtown — one of the very few hotels in Manhattan with an indoor rooftop pool. Similarly, this year’s sweepstakes winners from another NFL sponsor are at the Fairfield Inn in Times Square for $270 a night. Last year, they were in suburban Metairie, La., for $400 a night.

Another factor reducing hotel demand is that many people who usually travel to the Super Bowl won’t be traveling this year.

“Every other year, you have thousands of people traveling to the Super Bowl city from New York,” said New Yorker Gary Spitalnik, who is working on his 14th Super Bowl. The previous ones were for Marquis Jet; now, it’s with Wheels Up, a new private aviation company started by former Marquis Jet founder Kenny Dichter. “This year, all those people from the TV, marketing and business world will all sleep at home,” Spitalnik said.
Wheels Up rented 114 rooms for clients and guests at The James hotel in SoHo from Thursday to Sunday of Super Bowl week. “Even with all the options in New York, hotel deals are relationship-based,” Spitalnik said. “After all these years, we have those relationships.”

Brian Learst of QuintEvents, which sells the NFL On Location hospitality packages, noted that New York City hotel rates are among the nation’s highest at any time and that the first weekend in February is not normally a time when tourists flock to New York. 

Another factor in hotel sales is the game’s unusual Northeast location: Super Bowl XLVIII will be the most regional NFL championship game ever and, accordingly, many attendees won’t stay overnight.

“This is the one time people in the Northeast are going to be able to drive to the Super Bowl,” said Learst, whose On Location hotel and room packages (ranging from $3,099 to $10,699) are nearly sold out. “We haven’t had any problem at all finding good, quality rooms.”

Hotels like the Hilton Times Square have rooms available, although they come with the traditional Super Bowl markup.
Photo by: NEWSCOM
Of course, the abundance of rooms hasn’t stopped New York hoteliers from doing what their counterparts in other markets have done previously: pumping up their Web-listed rack rates to astonishing levels. Examples: For a three-night stay the weekend before the Super Bowl, the cheapest room at the Grand Central Hyatt was $219 per night. During Super Bowl weekend, the most inexpensive room is $554 per night. At the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, rooms the weekend before are listed at $219 per night. The cheapest room during Super Bowl weekend is $819 per night. At the Hilton Times Square, you can get in for $217 per night the weekend before, but during Super Bowl weekend, the cheapest room will cost $759 per night.

Those aren’t the same rates being offered to business-to-business customers.

“Typically, we have to go to the secondary market for hotel rooms, but not now,” said Tiffany Grame, account director at Octagon, which is handling Super Bowl hospitality for MasterCard. “Rack rates are even somewhat low for New York City.”

Team Epic is charged with finding around 200 hotel rooms for clients including NFL corporate sponsors FedEx, Visa, Mars, Procter & Gamble, and Barclays. “I wouldn’t quite call it a buyer’s market,” said Team Epic director Denadjae Combs. “New York City is a place where availability and options are always there if you are willing to spend. Sometimes, you or your client zeroes in on one particular [hotel] property. Then it can get expensive.”

But overall, for planners, cross hotel rooms off the fret list for this year’s game.

“There are lots of hotel options, so they are not a big worry,” said Jan Katzoff, head of global sports and entertainment at GMR Marketing, which is booking around 400 rooms for clients including NFL sponsors Visa and SAP. “Our concerns are about weather, security, congestion and expense. For weather, we make contingencies and work around it. We dealt with those other factors in London for the Olympics, so we’re pretty experienced there.”