NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The college football championship game between LSU and Clemson University is shaping up to be good for not just local hotels. A group representing hundreds of short-term rental property owners says the event is helping them score big, too.
The game is filling up hotel rooms in New Orleans and in neighboring Jefferson Parish.
Kristian Sonnier, VP of Communications for New Orleans & Company, a tourism entity, says some rooms are still available in the city but people who are interested should act fast.
"Right now, we’re looking at about 75 percent occupancy tomorrow then it’s going to tick up to 85 percent, between 85 and 90 percent Sunday and Monday,” said Sonnier.
LSU is based 90 miles from New Orleans, so a lot of alumni and fans are already in the state.
"A lot of people are coming from Baton Rouge,” said Sonnier.
Even with rain in the forecast this weekend and for Monday, Sonnier believes downtown businesses will do well.
"So, I think that restaurants and bars showing the game on TV are going to be packed, people selling ponchos and umbrellas are also going to make a killing this weekend,” he said.
Violet Peters, President and CEO of the Jefferson Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau says hotels just west of the city will do well.
"It's always our practice to take advantage of big events like this in New Orleans and of course we market aggressively to our drive markets,” said Peters.
Peters expects hotel occupancy in Jefferson Parish to be around 80 percent on Sunday and 90 percent on Monday parishwide.
"It’s great for our economy, it’s great news for us, it’s traditionally a soft time, looking at the same time last year, Sunday night we’re anticipating to be 70 percent over same time last year and on game night we’re going to be double what we were the same time last year,” Peters stated.
Short-term rentals are part of the game, too.
"I guarantee a Tiger victory,” said Bryan Montgomery, a Clemson fan from Michigan.
He and his family exited a cab and headed to a spacious two-story residence on the edge of the French Quarter that they were renting.
"We can get a lot of people together in one room and one area. We’re going to have a crab boil here Sunday,” said Montgomery.
A 6.75 percent occupancy tax on short-term rentals took effect on New Year’s Day but it does not seem to turn off visitors who want to see the big game up close.
Eric Bay is President of the Alliance for Neighborhood Prosperity which represents hundreds of short-term rental property owners in the city.
“When it still comes down to dollar-for-dollar what guests staying at a vacation home are looking for is a private experience that is unique versus a hotel,” said Bay. “For properties that I manage as well as between our association, we have about 250 members that have about 900 properties, so we’re a pretty good sample and we’re completely, there’s not a vacancy for the weekend.”
And tourism leaders love that the big game is thrusting New Orleans back into the national media spotlight and with President Donald Trump expected to be in attendance at the Superdome, they say the city could get even more attention.
"If history's any determining factor the president will likely tweet from the game and there's more exposure for New Orleans,” said Sonnier.
Thomas Montgomery, 21, said he is looking forward to exploring New Orleans for the first time.
"I've heard it's just a great time, great people, great atmosphere to come watch a football game,” he said.