Augusta Economy

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Augusta hotel prices skyrocket during Masters Week

Sunday, March 25, 2012 10:29 PM
Last updated 10:42 PM
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It might be expensive, but it’s just plain business.

When visitors fly into Augusta for the week of the Masters Tournament, prices at local hotels rocket upward. An outsider might raise an eyebrow at the sudden increases, but for most it’s an expected part of coming to Augusta during the first week of April.

“I think the expectations are there,” said Barry White, the president and CEO of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s the most prestigious sporting event in the world.”

White said it’s no different than trying to book a hotel at the beach during July or August. Demand is high, and so are the prices.

“That seven or eight days is our peak season,” White said. “The same thing happens in Athens every weekend the Dogs are playing.”

Prices can go up in many areas, including restaurants and other businesses that supply services to visitors, such as rental cars, but hotels are the most noticeable and easiest to measure.

The increase in prices and demand for hotels yields about twice the usual amount of hotel excise tax for the city of Augusta, according to numbers supplied by Rob Sherman of Augusta Planning and Development.

It might be more expensive, but don’t call it “gouging,” Sherman said.

He said Georgia law only prohibits businesses from raising prices during the time of an emergency, such as a hurricane evacuation.

During Masters Week, the average room rate climbs from about $65 to more than $250, according to data from Smith Travel Research. Usually the most expensive night is Wednesday, the night before tournament play begins. Last year, Augusta hotel occupancy rate was 95 percent on Wednesday, and the average price was more than $270.

Averages don’t tell the whole story, however. Prices naturally vary depending on location and amenities. The Econo Lodge on Belair Road near Interstate 20 will cost about $220 a night during Masters Week, a little more than four times the usual rate. At the Partridge Inn on Walton Way, a room that would cost about $110 for one night this week will soar above $1,000 during the week of the tournament.

White says guests generally get a little more for the heftier hotel bills, such as transportation to the tournament and free cocktails and meals to make customers feel welcome.

“A lot of the hotels try to provide some added value,” he said, “Our hospitality community really steps up that week.”

Any city that has more than 100,000 visitors in a given week can expect the same sort of price hikes to go along with it.

Louisville, Ky., which hosts the Kentucky Derby every spring, has about 17,000 hotel rooms in the metro area. Many Derby visitors will stay as far away as Lexington, more than an hour away, said Stacey Yates, the vice president of marketing and communications with the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

According to Smith Travel Research, last year’s average room rates peaked at about $360 on Saturday night in the Louisville area.

Yates said it is not uncommon to see $140 per night rooms to jump above $1,000 per night during Derby weekend.

“I’m told it’s simply old-fashioned supply and demand,” Yates said.

So really, the only thing that can drive down hotel prices is an overabundance of rooms.

Augusta currently has about 8,800 hotel rooms, but White isn’t sure when enough will be enough. Because the Augusta National Golf Club doesn’t release the number of tickets it sells, White says it’s hard to know exactly how many hotel rooms Augusta could build before it outpaces demand.

“Impossible to estimate,” White said. “But there are only so many people that can fit on an 18-hole golf course.”

Comments (26) Add comment
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curly123053
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curly123053 03/25/12 - 10:14 pm
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It's still gouging to me

It's still gouging to me regardless what you people say! The hotels incomes are greatly increased during Masters week without raising the prices due to up to 95% occupancy. Charging 2 to 4 times the regular rate is greed and taking advantage of people, and then I wouldn't pay $100 to watch people knock a little white ball over hills, and lakes anyways. It's nice people got money to throw around.

pgapeach2
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pgapeach2 03/25/12 - 11:05 pm
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So true and the hotels try to

So true and the hotels try to say that the prices are regulated by companies such as Choice hotels and Wyndham. I contacted both companies and was told that they regulate their own prices. Some of these hotels are not worth the regular price night stay let alone the masters price. Sad part is, it's not just Augusta they are jacking up the prices in Atlanta and Savannah too.

GGpap
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GGpap 03/26/12 - 12:47 am
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"It might be more expensive,

"It might be more expensive, but don’t call it “gouging,” Sherman said."

And I'll bet a 3 dollar bill that Mr. Sherman made this statement with a straight face. He'd make a great D.C. critter in the House or the Senate.

Further, it sure as h... isn't any of the 99% that are splurging for these precious rooms with a bed.

GGpap

dade30906
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dade30906 03/26/12 - 01:08 am
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The stay is not worth the

The stay is not worth the price, but you might be fool if you come from out town. Augusta Hotels need a make over.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/26/12 - 05:43 am
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I'm not sure state law only

I'm not sure state law only prevents gouging with diasters. If I remember correctly, the motels get around the law by saying their regular posted price is the high one and they are giving discounts the rest of the year. Maybe someone can clarify. If that is the case, then it's a scheme to get around the law...not that it will ever be stopped....heh.

draksig
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draksig 03/26/12 - 05:52 am
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Why is this news?

Why is this news?

wribbs
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wribbs 03/26/12 - 05:54 am
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These are private businesses

These are private businesses that can charge whatever they want. If the rates get too high, people wont pay to stay there.

I have friends in the area that rent their homes out for enough money to pay their property taxes and have enough left over to make improvements to their homes and go on vacation, are they gouging too?

Techfan
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Techfan 03/26/12 - 06:57 am
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Headline: Water is wet.

Headline: Water is wet.

TParty
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TParty 03/26/12 - 07:17 am
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This is the free market, so

This is the free market, so why are people complaining?

SAPCS
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SAPCS 03/26/12 - 07:18 am
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LOL @Techfan. You can't

LOL @Techfan.

You can't call this gouging. I paid $89 per night for a hotel room in Hilton Head in February. I will pay $229 for the same hotel room in July.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 03/26/12 - 07:31 am
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This is another one of those

This is another one of those stories that gets pulled out, dusted off, and punched up alittle to make it more current. Just like the stories of "match day" with the MCG students, the person who has been to umpteen Master's, the married couple who go to the BorderBash and one is a Carolina fan and the other is a Georgia fan, all the people who have to work on Christmas or New Year's Eve, the first baby born of the new year, etc... That's okay, though.

LLArms
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LLArms 03/26/12 - 08:13 am
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"It's still gouging to me

"It's still gouging to me regardless what you people say!"

And people still don't know what the term gouging means.

You cannot price gouge in a free market. It is impossible. It is only worth what someone is willing to pay. That is the great thing about our nation, if you feel it cost to much, you are free to not buy it! What a concept!

raul
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raul 03/26/12 - 08:50 am
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LLArms. Well said. And the

LLArms. Well said. And the tournament and food there is quite reasonable. Look at the face value cost of the badges. Not bad for a world reknowned event.

my.voice
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my.voice 03/26/12 - 09:02 am
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FROM WIKIPEDIA: Price gouging

FROM WIKIPEDIA:
Price gouging is a pejorative term referring to a situation in which a seller prices goods or commodities much higher than is considered reasonable or fair. This rapid increase in prices occurs after a demand or supply shock: examples include price increases after hurricanes or other natural disasters. In precise, legal usage, it is the name of a crime that applies in some of the United States during civil emergencies. In less precise usage, it can refer either to prices obtained by practices inconsistent with a competitive free market, or to windfall profits. In the Soviet Union, it was simply included under the single definition of speculation.

The term is similar to profiteering but can be distinguished by being short-term and localized, and by a restriction to essentials such as food, clothing, shelter, medicine and equipment needed to preserve life, limb and property. In jurisdictions where there is no such crime, the term may still be used to pressure firms to refrain from such behavior.

The term is not in widespread use in mainstream economic theory, but is sometimes used to refer to practices of a coercive monopoly which raises prices above the market rate that would otherwise prevail in a competitive environment.[1] Alternatively, it may refer to suppliers' benefiting to excess from a short-term change in the demand curve.

As a criminal offense, Florida's law[2] is typical. Price gouging may be charged when a supplier of essential goods or services sharply raises the prices asked in anticipation of or during a civil emergency, or when it cancels or dishonors contracts in order to take advantage of an increase in prices related to such an emergency. The model case is a retailer who increases the price of existing stocks of milk and bread when a hurricane is imminent. It is a defense to show that the price increase mostly reflects increased costs, such as running an emergency generator, or hazard pay for workers.

nnaugusta
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nnaugusta 03/26/12 - 11:16 am
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Well the Master's game could

Well the Master's game could be considered an emergency! I mean, come on, there is a sense or urgency or emergency situation to get the city all cleaned up. Don't believe it....just ask any laborer that works for Richmond county what the number one priority is this week and next week. Better hope you have no utility problems for the next two weeks....it won't get repaired until after the game is over!

justthefacts
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justthefacts 03/26/12 - 12:01 pm
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Thanks for the assurance.

Thanks for the assurance. Looking forward to coming and good to know everything will be spiffy.

star
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star 03/26/12 - 08:20 pm
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2
It is embarrassing to me as a

It is embarrassing to me as a native Augustan, for any business to increase their prices 100%. IT IS GREED!!!

star
650
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star 03/26/12 - 08:34 pm
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It is also embarrassing for

It is also embarrassing for the City of Augusta to only clean up during Master's Week. They could do the same type cleaning at least once a month on a regular schedule. We are not the "Garden City" during the rest of the year.

KSL
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KSL 03/26/12 - 08:37 pm
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1
star, maybe they can charge

star, maybe they can charge less the rest of the year because there is a part of the public willing to pay those prices during the masters. Furthermore, if they couldn't get people willing to pay those prices, the free market would cause them to reduce those prices and not command them. Duh!

TParty
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TParty 03/26/12 - 09:19 pm
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Star- I agree the city should

Star- I agree the city should remain clean. To do so though would require every single one of us to be respectful of the city, and not trash it, and then either volunteer time and/or pay taxes to pay others to clean up and do area beautification. A focus should made during the blooming months to keep Augusta looking sharp though, which means even after Masters.

And who ever signed off and did the work on Gordon highway with the trees and little plants- well done. Job well done. Keep that up too. Although now I'm thinking about it- I'm worried I won't be able see the people trying to cross six lanes of highway... oh well. So long as there are pretty trees!!

Riverman1
93859
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Riverman1 03/27/12 - 04:04 am
0
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The state is cutting down

The state is cutting down trees around interstate interchanges. The one at Washington Rd.-I-20 had been landscaped well with flowering trees, but it was leveled.

IsAnyoneAlwaysRight
40
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IsAnyoneAlwaysRight 03/27/12 - 06:00 am
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Its not gouging, most are

Its not gouging, most are corporate clients these days since Billy P. has transformed the Augusta National into the Disney/Vegas of Golf. They all write it off anyway as customer entertainment.

Heck I rented my 2,400 sq foot home out for $5,600 for four nights. They didn't blink....But my house is as clean as its ever been; busted my tail.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 03/27/12 - 06:05 am
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Is anybody, congrats on your

Is anybody, congrats on your house rental. Just courious, what has Payne done differently then the other Chairman?

LLArms
470
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LLArms 03/27/12 - 08:42 am
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"It is also embarrassing for

"It is also embarrassing for the City of Augusta to only clean up during Master's Week."

Nothing new. Standard operating procedure. Local governments are like immature adults, always trying to keep up with the Jones's.

DaddyFrog
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DaddyFrog 03/27/12 - 11:09 am
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The term " plain business "

The term " plain business " is incorrect. I think what the hotels and motels are doing is called " greed ". It's a shame that a section of the country know for its hospitality takes advantage of visitors like this. It's not just the hotels. Gas will go up with or without the current contrived gas price hike. Resturants will charge more. All done to squeeze the last penny out of visitors. I can't remember a Sunday sermon preached about greed during Masters. I wonder why ?

Rob Pavey
552
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Rob Pavey 03/27/12 - 02:33 pm
0
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The more hotels charge for

The more hotels charge for rooms, the more incentive it creates for Masters guests to stay in local homes.

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