TAMPA — After months of waiting, wondering and worrying, some Tampa hotels have seen a late bump in reservations associated with tonight's International Indian Film Academy awards show.
"There were some spikes, as we anticipated," said Bob Morrison, executive director of the Hillsborough County Hotel & Motel Association. A big chunk of business was expected in the 10 to 20 days leading up to the event.
But even with the last-minute influx, two West Shore hoteliers said Friday they don't expect to sell out.
When Tampa won the right to host the IIFA awards last July, local officials said past IIFA weekends had generated around 24,000 hotel room nights for their host cities.
In Hillsborough County, the number now is expected to be closer to about 12,000 room nights, said Pam Avery, who chairs the board of the Visit Tampa Bay tourism agency.
"Are we full? No, we are not full," said Avery, the general manager of the 272-room Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore-Airport. "We are picking up rooms at the last minute."
But looking at the big picture is important, Avery said, and hosting IIFA could help establish Tampa as an international destination in the long run.
At the Westin Tampa Bay, reservations for Friday and Saturday night hovered around 40 percent before the late influx, general manager Ron Alicandro said. That was disappointing, because the 244-room Westin had turned down some group business in the expectation of an IIFA sell-out.
As a result of the last-minute IIFA reservations, Alicandro now expects his occupancy rate for Friday and Saturday to be in the low 60s.
That might be where the Westin would be without IIFA, Alicandro said, making the weekend, at best, a wash.
That said, Alicandro noted one difference between IIFA and a Super Bowl.
When the Super Bowl comes to town, he said, it dominates the market so much that other travelers tend to stay away the week before and the week after the championship.
That hasn't been the case with IIFA, which has not created as much displacement as a Super Bowl.
"The fact that IIFA is in town this weekend did not keep the corporate traveler away last week," he said.
Tickets still available
As of mid-afternoon Friday, hundreds of tickets for tonight's IIFA Awards show were still available, according to ticketmaster.com, especially for buyers with $1,109 to spend.
As interesting, one analyst said, were trends in the secondary ticket market, where there were some discounts to be had.
Connor Gregoire of SeatGeek.com said the cheap seats ($94 to $180) that sold out first were being sold at a premium through resale web sites like StubHub, eBay, TicketNetwork and TicketsNow. SeatGeek aggregates sales data from those sites, tracking the market for sports and entertainment tickets the way Kayak and Orbitz track the travel market.
Ninety percent of the 1,600 IIFA tickets sold on the secondary market have been for those lower-priced tickets, and they've sold for an average of $217, Gregoire said. Not only that, the average price for those upper-level tickets has been rising over the past week, from $155 on April 19 to $252 on Friday.
Meanwhile, Gregoire said, there have been fewer resales of more pricey club, lower-level and on-the-field tickets.
Those tickets cost $344 to $3,295 to begin with, leaving less room for profiteering.