Calling for rate increases in Des Moines, Iowa, during the upcoming caucus on Feb. 1, one of the largest and most important early political gatherings in the presidential race, would not be an impressive prediction, until you see the numbers. Some standard rooms in the city have shot up to as much as $900 per night during the lead-up to the city's first caucus, and not many rooms are left.
Eric Wahrman, GM of the Hampton Inn & Suites in Des Moines, told USA Today that his "no vacancy" sign has been on for two months, and a nearby Residence Inn claimed it started out offering rooms for $469 a night before climbing higher. Even so, some hotels were quoted saying their rates were too low.
According to The Des Moines Register, the city's average occupancy rate in February hangs around 60 percent, but Greg Edwards, president and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau was quoted, saying the bureau predicts occupancy will hit 88 percent on the weekend of the caucus. Other cities holding electoral events can expect an even bigger splash down the road, with Brian Bocken, owner and GM of the Quality Inn & Suites Events Center in Des Moines telling the Register that he believes the volume has not yet reached 2008 levels as neither Democrats or Republicans have chosen a front runner. At that point, the parties are expected to spend more on rooms as they bring more staff on the road.
In 2013 it was reported that occupancy for the presidential inauguration was down from the same day in 2009, but that may have been related to a presidential re-election. A new face in office could be what draws the crowds in 2017.
Apart from the caucus, February is a big month for bookings. On Feb. 7, San Francisco will be hosting the Super Bowl, giving a boost to business during the typically slow February period. According to SF Gate, the city is spending up to $4 million on transportation and safety measure in the run-up to the event.