TAMPA, Fla. — With the Super Bowl less than two weeks away, hotels are booking up. Even with limited fans, tens-of-thousands of people will be traveling to Tampa to be at or around the event.
"They just want to be here. They want to be a part of it all," said Santiago Corrada, president & CEO of Visit Tampa Bay.
The company tracks hotel stays and other metrics for big events. They are hoping the Super Bowl will bring hotel stays safely back to pre-pandemic levels.
“I would love to see occupancy in the 90s - 80s to 90s, during this week leading up to the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl, so we can beat last January," said Corrada.
Last January, hotel occupancy was at 73%, the highest it has been in the month of January.
Today, hotel occupancy is at 53%. Much lower, especially considering one of the biggest events of the year is around the corner.
In years past, when Tampa has hosted the Super Bowl, hotels were booked up, and visitors were forced to look elsewhere.
"In the past, we haven't had enough rooms in Hillsborough County to accommodate all the visitors that come with a Super Bowl. So, we've seen people booking rooms all the way over to Orlando," said Corrada.
But, hotels are definitely starting to book as we get closer to game day.
“I've noticed that inventory of hotels is really low and people are wanting to come but can't really find a nice place to stay," said Emily Pariseau. She is a travel consultant who lives in an apartment in Tampa.
When she saw demand go up, she decided to check out hosting her apartment.
“My roommate and I both have family in town, so we have elsewhere to stay. And we sort of looked around and thought, we have a cute apartment, maybe people would like to stay here.”
What she found was that people would be willing to pay big money to utilize her apartment for the weekend.
"We were shocked. We put [our apartment] up on Airbnb for less than 12 hours and got an offer for thousands of dollars that we never in a million years would have expected.”
The pair decided to decline the offer so they could make sure they had all the cleaning supplies and items necessary to host people. They are going to list again soon, when the demand will likely be even higher.
“And I think we're gonna wait till Monday morning, we're gonna put it up again, if we get a big offer, we'll take it and if not, we'll just forget about it," said Pariseau.