June was the best month ever for hotel bookings in the Boise area.
That’s according to the Greater Boise Auditorium District, which shared the results from tax collections within its boundaries.
“We topped $1 million in room tax for the first time ever in June,” GBAD executive director Pat Rice said. “Room demand was up over 2019 by a few thousand rooms.”
The district collects a 5% room tax, which means that $1 million translates to $20 million in total hotel bookings.
“We never would have expected that we would have a record tax revenue after a pandemic,” GBAD treasure Anne Marie Downen said.
Rice said a number of factors played into the big month.
“Far West (regional soccer tournament) played a major role in that. But we had other things. I never knew how popular pickleball was, but there were a number of pickleball tournaments in Boise. There were baseball tournaments every single weekend during June and July. Lots of sporting events. Plus, we hosted three conventions.”
Rice said some rooms in Boise were fetching $400 per night. Tax collection data for July is not yet available, but Rice said his team is anxious to see the trend.
Question marks ahead
The auditorium district operates the Boise Centre facility and said the recent surge in hospitalizations related to COVID-19 has created some uncertainty about the remainder of 2021.
Earlier this month, high-profile local event Festival of Trees decided to cancel the event again this Christmas season. It’s traditionally held at the Boise Centre over Thanksgiving.
“After Festival of Trees canceled, there were some inquiries from different groups if that was a message,” Rice said. “We said ‘no, the health care systems have some various standards they are looking at to evaluate.’”
Rice conceded that depending on the public health situation, it could impact the Boise Centre. He says, for now, even with the loss of Festival of Trees, they still expect a near record-breaking fourth quarter.
Kristin Muchow, who chairs the GBAD board and separately serves as general manager of event planning business Meeting Systems Inc. says she’s seen will from customers to move forward with their events.
“Some of the comments are ‘please God don’t cancel this again.’ People who want to meet are taking the precautions necessary, to where the hope is we continue to move forward,” Muchow said. “So I guess where I’m skewing a little more optimistic.”
Beyond Festival of Trees, some other events are moving forward while some will not. The Western Idaho Fair, slated for later this month, remains on track. The Treefort Music Festival says it will move ahead but require vaccination, and some venues may require masks. Boise Entrepreneur Week announced yesterday it would move to a virtual format.
For Boise Centre, Rice said they would work to accommodate groups that want to use the building.
“We have all protocols in place. Everyone was in masks and gloves. We respected all of their wishes like we would with any group.”