Moneyball

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: Valley News Issue: February 2019
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Spring training brings big bucks – and big competition – to Valley resorts.

Spring training brings big bucks – and big competition – to Valley resorts.

In colder climes, Punxsutawney Phil heralds the end of winter and onset of spring – in the Valley, we look to Major League Baseball. Every February, hordes of fans descend for spring training.

The competitive atmosphere extends to local resorts, which clamor for a piece of the estimated $644.2 million annual economic impact on the state, according to Cactus League data. Scotts-dale alone felt an estimated economic impact of $28 million in 2015, says Experience Scottsdale president and CEO Rachel Sacco.

“Last March, Scottsdale area resorts averaged 89 percent occupancy,” she says. “As new hotels open throughout the Valley, however, competition for these valuable spring training visitors will become even stronger.”

The Saguaro hotel, in walking distance of Scottsdale Stadium, is headquarters for San Francisco Giants fans, says managing director Joe Iturri. “We welcome the sea of orange and black that traditionally marks the arrival of March,” Iturri says, when 80 percent of guests are there for spring training. “We actually have two guests who have been staying here for more than 30 years and [stay] the entire month.” Despite his cush location, Iturri continues to offer baseball packages. “[I] always feel the pressure to compete. Even in spring training.”

Other resorts are coy about competing for “heads in beds.” At the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, director of sales and marketing Pam Gilbert focuses on guest experience over special offers. “We’ve found the best way to build our business volume is to assure guests are provided with memorable experiences they want to repeat.”

However, even resorts situated farther afield of the Cactus League stadiums realize the benefit of spring training traffic.

“We want [guests] to fall in love with the Hermosa and make this their home away from home, rather than just spend a night here and go to a baseball game,” says Melanie Volkers, director of sales and marketing at The Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley. “Still, it’s something we can’t ignore.” The resort offers a Play Ball package with a baseball-themed welcome amenity.