People flock to Austin to be part of its many events. From UT games, SXSW Interactive/Film/Music Fests, ACL Fest, NI Week, The ROT Rally, etc. Truly, the list goes on and on. There is always something to do, and folks want to be there.
The problem is, the City’s hotels simply do not have enough space to accommodate its visitors. The Austin Convention Center and Visitors Bureau currently reports 6,000 hotel rooms downtown. While that might sound like a healthy sized inventory, it seems attendance to major events always leave visitors without a place to stay.
What’s more, statistics show that these events are growing and so is their attendance. Total attendees for the SXSW Festival was reported as 302,700 in 2012, whereas 2011’s festival brought in 286,000. The ACL Festival lures roughly 70,000 people to Zilker Park each day of its three-day event in past few years. Next year, the event will span two weekends, which will certainly encourage a huge jump in attendance.
So what happens if you double up on events?
Formula One’s race weekend this November falls on the same weekend scheduled for the Texas Longhorn football game against Oklahoma State. Hotel managers and owners in Austin are voicing serious concerns for incoming guests. Each event alone supplies downtown hotels with enough guests to reach capacity.
Danelle Awtrey, director of sales and marketing at Inter-Continental Stephen F. Austin said, “Many of (the UT Alumni) are repeat, and they book months in advance. So, the hotels in downtown are booked typically 90 percent to 100 percent on every UT football weekend.” Similarly, Formula One fans book as far out as a year in advance and bring the same amount of visitors. Awtrey says it is logistically impossible to accommodate that many visitors in one weekend.
All parties involved are scrambling to find a solution to a potentially large problem. In the meantime, however, Oklahoma State’s Director of Football Operations, Mack Butler, is forced to lodge his team and staff as far as Horseshoe Bay or Temple. He needs a block of 100-plus rooms, and they are just not available.
Developers are certainly not blind to the need for hospitality in the downtown area. For instance, White Lodging has two new hotels in construction right now. The Hyatt is set to open in Spring and the JW Marriott will open in the first quarter of 2015. They announced yesterday that they will also be building a Westin, which is projected to open in Spring of 2015. These three projects will add another 1,634 rooms to CBD hotel room availability.
It is refreshing to know that hotel developments are on the horizon for downtown Austin. Unfortunately, until we get there, we are in quite a conundrum.
- Austin American-Statesman Austin’s F1 date has visiting Oklahoma State scrambling for rooms
- KXAN – F1-UT conflict bad for hotel business
- Community Impact – Westin Hotel to open in Downtown Austin