Austin-area hotels got more of a nudge than a big bump from the first MotoGP race at Circuit of the Americas.
For the week of April 14-20, the 30,000 hotels in Austin’s market-service area made about $3 million more than they did for the same week last year, according to data provided by Smith Travel Research. That was about half of what was forecast by an economic impact study conducted for Circuit of the Americas’ before its first premier motorcycle race.
Hoteliers, however, weren’t complaining.
“If you were a collective owner of Austin, Texas, and you owned all the hotels, you would be very pleased with that,” said Tracy Terrell, director of sales and marketing for the downtown Marriott. “When that tide came into town, it raised all the boats.”
Marriott’s downtown property, which includes a Courtyard and Residence Inn, was sold out last weekend, Terrell said, although she said it was difficult to gauge how many guests came for MotoGP. April is typically a busy month for Austin hotels, and there were other events going on that weekend, including the Austin Reggae Fest.
Last year, when there was no MotoGP race, Austin’s occupancy rate was 78.8 percent for the equivalent week. This year, it increased slightly to 79.1 percent. The average daily room rate was $129 this year, compared to $115 last year, according to data provided by Smith Travel Research, which tracks hotel industry data in North America.
Smith Travel Research calculated that in the past year, about 1,000 hotel rooms have been added in the Austin area, which stretches from Round Rock to San Marcos and from Bastrop to Lake Travis. Total room revenues for the week topped $21.8 million compared to $18.7 million last year.
MotoGP, motorcycling’s equivalent of Formula One, figures to be the second biggest attraction at Circuit of the Americas, behind only the F1 race in November.
According to Circuit of the Americas officials, the attendance for Sunday’s MotoGP race topped 61,000, and the event’s total three-day attendance exceeded 131,000.
In a study looking at the MotoGP race at Circuit of the Americas, Don Hoyte, a former economist with the state comptroller’s office, pegged the economic impact of the event at $25 million. Hoyte estimated, in part because of the novelty of the new track, that the race-day crowd could be 86,000 with a three-day attendance total of 161,000. He also projected that hotels would see an increase in business of $6.1 million.
The study has been cited by the circuit as it seeks to receive about $2 million for the MotoGP race from the state’s events trust fund.
Neil Goldman, founder and CEO of Hotels for Hope, said his organization booked 4,000 room nights for last weekend’s MotoGP event and that the average stay was 3.86 nights.
“That’s a little inflated because of the (racing) teams,” said Goldman, whose organization handles hotel bookings for Circuit of the Americas. “A team might stay four to five nights, the average fan two to three nights.”
Goldman said the average room rate his organization booked was $162 and that MotoGP teams were paying less than $200 a night while Formula One teams paid more than $400 a night in November. For Formula One week, Hotels for Hope booked 27,000 room nights with an average stay of 4.18 nights and at an average rate of $364.68.
Goldman said the hotels that didn’t raise their ratesmuch for MotoGP weekend appeared to fare the best.
“The ones that were kind of shooting for the stars will re-assess,” Goldman said.