By the time Buffalo’s NCAA brackets were announced Sunday night, fans and others had already booked many hotels to near their capacities.
So how does that happen?
Hoteliers cite three factors.
First, a large contingent of college basketball fans want to watch the games no matter which teams play.
“There are people in the Northeast who say, 'Buffalo is having the games. I’m going to get my tickets and my hotel early because we know how those prices go up,’” said Patrick Kaler, president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara.
Many of the out-of-town fans reserved rooms in October, when tickets to the tournament went on sale.
A second contingent of fans, like those rooting for Syracuse and Villanova, booked their rooms on an educated guess their teams would end up playing here.
“They book it, and if their team isn’t here, they just cancel. There’s no penalty,” said Jay Dellavecchia, general manager at Hyatt Regency Buffalo.
And then the NCAA books rooms ahead of time for players, coaches and others associated with the teams. For example, two teams will stay at the Hyatt, which has 150 rooms earmarked for them.
While those who booked early secured their spots in hotels that will almost certainly sell out, they likely did not get any kind of price advantage by being proactive.
Because Buffalo has hosted the games four times before, hotels here have a history of data to draw from when setting prices. Hotel officials knew months ago their rooms would be in demand this week, and they established prices accordingly.
“This isn’t our first rodeo,” said David Hart, president and CEO of Hart Hotels, which has five hotels in the Buffalo area.