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Best of Benjamin Spillman

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Benjamin Spillman
 

New Year's hotel rates slide, Web site suggests

3 January 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The pain of a New Year's Day hangover didn't decrease the first day of 2007.

But the cost of sleeping one off in a Las Vegas hotel room did.

Hotel room rates for the holiday weekend fell for the first time in five years, at least according to one Web site.

The Web site operator said that's because holiday travelers were looking for bargains as well as a good time when they reserved their Las Vegas hotel rooms.

"People were kind of gravitating to the low-cost hotels," said Michael Zaletel, CEO of the hotel-booking site i4Vegas.com.

The average daily room rate for stays ending Jan. 1, Jan. 2 or Jan. 3 booked through the site dropped to $167, Zaletel said. Last year the rate for the same period was $179.

Last week visitors could book a New Year's Eve room at Mandalay Bay, which sold out by the same time the year before, for $379. Tropicana was available at $238 and downtown Fitzgeralds was available for $147 on the site.

Although rates fell for rooms booked through the site, volume remained high. The site had its best year ever for departures from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2 by posting about $600,000 in sales, he said.

"Business is good for us when the rates relax a little bit," Zaletel said.

The Web site books about 500 to 1,000 room nights daily throughout the Las Vegas area.

This year the Plaza was its top destination for New Year's visitors followed by the Imperial Palace on the Strip.

"I think downtown picked up some steam this year," he said.

Zaletel said it suggests people who booked online sought to keep down costs for their holiday trips.

"People who go to sites like ours, they are sticker-shocked (by high rates)," he said. "People are just not wanting to pay $500 to $600 a night."

It's unclear whether the traffic on i4Vegas.com is representative of the entire Las Vegas market, which has 131,800 hotel rooms.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority tracks room rates month-to-month but doesn't break down the figures for specific days.

The authority projected more than 300,000 people would visit Las Vegas and forecast an occupancy rate above 99 percent which would be considered a sellout for the destination.

But they don't yet know if visitation for the weekend met projections.

"We don't have data on that, and we probably won't for a few weeks," said John Piet, senior research analyst for the authority.