Plenty Of Room

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 13, 2009 in General Discussion, Kentucky Derby | No Comments >>

Prime hotels, restaurant reservations and Derby tickets have often been commodities nearly impossible to get, especially by this late in the year.

But a sagging national economy may mean some opportunities for those who’ve always wanted to attend the Derby, but haven’t been able to before now.

We’re just three weeks away from the Kentucky Derby and normally, you’d have a hard time finding a hotel room in Louisville for the Derby.

But not this year. Some of the area’s most popular hotels still have vacancies.

The horses, trainers and staff are arriving daily at Churchill Downs with weeks of anticipation surrounding the greatest two minutes in sports.

But clouds swirl around the “sport of kings” as the nation weathers a rough economic storm.

Even those who normally shell out thousands of dollars to attend the Kentucky Derby are scaling back their spending.

What’s the main reason? The Derby is an event often referred to in the industry as an “incentive event”, like the Super Bowl or Final Four, something given as a reward to companies’ top employees or customers.

This is prompting hotels to try to attract more bookings by reducing the number of required nights stayed, dropping prices and bundling good Derby tickets into package deals sold to individuals.  These tickets normally are only available to top corporate buyers.

But tourism leaders say if you hope to go to the Derby, don’t sit on the fence too long because it’s not expected to be too quiet in local hotels come Derby day.