March 21, 2008

Big games are big business for hotels

By Ann Forte, News 14 Carolina

RALEIGH -- Eight area hotels are playing host this weekend to NCAA tournament teams. The Gonzaga Bulldogs of Spokane, Wash., and their fans, are staying at the Hilton North Raleigh.

The Jay and Kevin Show also made the trip.

"We're broadcasting our show live. This is the 10th year in a row we've followed Gonzaga to the NCAA tournament," explained show host Jay Daniels.

This year, the show is staying at the Hilton with the team, coaches and bus loads of fans.

"For as far as it was, we did get a pretty good contingent to follow the Zags," Daniels said.

It is good news for the Hilton North Raleigh and the seven other hotels hosting NCAA tournament teams.

While they are in the Triangle watching basketball, out-of-towners are expected to spend millions of dollars and book thousands of hotel rooms. The Gonzaga group has booked 150 nights at the Hilton North Raleigh.

"We're pretty filled up with their team," said Hilton's Derrick Brown, and filled up with their fans who are eating out, shopping and staying the night.

"It's excellent. We're not complaining at all," said Brown.

The guys on the Jay and Kevin Show are not complaining either.

"This is a great experience. Everyone who travels with the team enjoys the experience," Daniels said. "We don't mind spending money in Raleigh. We'll spend more. We'll stay longer."

That sounds good to the folks at the Hilton North Raleigh. When Raleigh hosted the event back in 2004, visitors spend $2.3 million and booked about 5,000 hotel room nights.