HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - January is going to be an important month for Coast hotel operators to get off on the right foot after a tough 2019.
“I think it's so critical,” said Kenny Glavan with Margaritaville Resort. “And, even more, I think everybody’s tuned in to that and making sure that we meet the expectations and create the very best experience that we can so that we can rebuild that reputation that this is a great destination to come and visit.”
In about three weeks, the University of Georgia fans may help out with that. They did last year.
“It was successful last year, and we feel this year will be successful,” Glavan added. “We’re glad that we have a team that travels through our state on the way to the Sugar Bowl. That’s always a good thing for us.”
Glavan said tourism officials just don’t have a lot of time to come up with a good game plan.
“We don’t because, first of all, we don’t know who the teams are going to be until the last minute,” he said. “So, we scramble around as we anticipate those teams, who they’re going to be, and then we try to get the message out to them that, ‘Hey, you can come stay with us on your way to see a wonderful game.’”
One strategy has worked for hotels in the past, no matter what teams play.
“We are putting together buses and hotel bus packages to reap some of that business,” said Linda Hornsby, executive director of the Mississippi Hotel & Lodging Association.
Angie Shank with Hampton Inn & Suites on Daniel Boulevard in Gulfport also said her hotel will benefit from the traveling fans.
“We are the perfect stopping point for them,” she said. “And you can get in here a lot easier than you can in New Orleans, especially once they sell out.”
She said the Sugar Bowl is not a critical component to the business strategy particularly for those hotels along the Interstate 10 corridor.
“Even though the Sugar Bowl and anything that goes on in New Orleans does impact us, depending on the direction they’re headed in, we actually have our very own clientele that are very supportive and very loyal to us. So, we do really well here in January," Shank said.
Georgia will play Baylor in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, and the national championship will also be played at the Superdome on Jan. 13.