We’re interrupting our ongoing attempt to sort through our San Diego-related email to note something rather curious.
You see, The Beat and Future Mr. Beat are staying on Monday night in San Diego to chill out, detox and simply sit staring silently into space. Our accommodations are still in a state of flux, but this morning The Beat was checking on hotel prices and was pleased to see you can get all kinds of rooms for reasonable rates and not $400 a night.
This got us thinking. Since the Comic-Con is far down the list of San Diego’s most profitable events, we wondered whether hotel rates would again skyrocket the next weekend for those far more profitable events. The answer: No.
Back in January we noted that the annual ESRI convention is considered to have a larger economic impact on San Diego than Comic-Con:
This PR from the mayor’s office admits that Comic-Con is an important piece of return business for the city, but says the Environmental Systems Research Institute show is an even BIGGER part of the city’s economics, attracting approximately 15,000 specialists in geographic information system software. These 15,000 map-muddlers generated some $46.5 million in economic impact for San Diego in 2006. Comic-Con? A mere $32.1 million. Doing the math, a geographer computer nerd spends $3100 in San Diego. A stormtrooper, a scant $267 (based on an estimate of 120,000 attendees in 2006).
This idea was echoed in this story from the New York Times:
And it is decidedly low-rent. No. 33 on the official tip sheet lists the grocery chain Ralph’s Market as an alternative to dining out. The Bio International Convention in San Diego, a gathering of the biotechnology industry, with one-sixth as many attendees, produces about double Comic-Con’s $41.5 million in economic impact on the city.
So we decided to do a little comparison shopping.
Our first stop: the San Diego Convention Center’s official site, where we looked up some upcoming summer events. There we came across this shocking visual (click for a larger version):
CCI has ZERO attendees? Really? We’ll be charitable and guess that the website’s database cannot handle a number greater than five figures. Surely, that must be the reason, since nothing else remotely that big ever comes to town.
We continued on to the weekend of the ESRI convention, whose 15,000 attendees outspend Comic-Con 10 to 1. Would hotels be available during this eagerly awaited, worldwide beloved event? Below is a printout from Hotel.com of downtown hotel availability. Again, click for a larger version.
Once again, we call shenanigans. Based simply on the number of party invites and event information we’ve received this week, the 125,000 Comic-Con attendees spend a LOT more on HOTEL ROOMS alone than map muddlers, liver lookers or a bridal bazaar. In fact, let’s say a mere 20,000 of San Diego’s attendees are there on an expense account and paying going rates for hotels and so on, and spend a minimum of $2000. (Easily done based on our own expense reports every year.) That ALONE would generate $40 million. If the remaining 105,000 attendees at CCI spent a MINIMUM average of $67 (the “single can of tuna” theory), that alone would generate $7 million, for a total greater than the map muddlers.
Of course, there is little use in pointing this out. The San Diego city fathers are unlikely to ever accept Comic-Con as the world-famous event that it is. It must gall some of the locals that their city is now known as an adjective, just like Cannes, Sundance and Telluride. Admitting that the con brings in money to the city coffers is just too unpleasant a pill to swallow. So, the city within a city will go on, our own little Brigadoon.