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Balloon Fiesta hotel sales defy drop in attendance

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta attendance may have dipped in 2014, but new numbers show hotel sales during the event didn’t fall accordingly.

A recent report shows metro-area hotel business during Balloon Fiesta remained relatively flat from 2013 to 2014. That comes despite some hotels reporting lower-than-expected bookings midway through the fiesta and the fiesta’s own numbers that show a drop in overall attendance. Fiesta officials – who cited a few weather-related event cancellations – said that total fiesta attendance declined by about 35,000 visits, a drop-off of about 4 percent from 2013.

Albuquerque hotels, however, experienced just a minor drop in room sales and still made gains in total revenue, according to data from the global hotel research firm STR.

Metro-area hotel revenue reached $1.41 million during the Balloon Fiesta run, according to STR data. That’s compared to $1.39 million in 2013 and $1.28 million in 2012.

The actual number of room nights sold fell slightly, to 13,524 from 13,627 in 2013, a total loss of 103 nights. However, an increase in average daily room rate – to $104.82 from $103.52 – helped make up the difference in revenue.

The STR report covers a 13-day period in early October that includes the full fiesta run, plus a couple days before and after.

Tania Armenta, vice president of marketing, communications and tourism for the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau, said an additional breakdown shows that demand for full-service hotels fell during this year’s fiesta, while limited-service properties made a slight gain.

Balloon Fiesta hasn’t studied the event’s economic impact since 2011, but that last report showed that 60.5 percent of 2011 attendees traveled from outside the metro area. Those out-of-town survey respondents spent an average of 4.5 nights in Albuquerque.

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