Downtown Indy hotels bring in extra staff to accommodate weekend crowds

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Big Ten tournaments and March Madness will soon bring thousands of visitors to Indiana. Our downtown businesses can hardly wait as they prepare for an influx of people!

Some hotels, like the JW Marriott, are already seeing occupancies of 90% on the weekends.

“We’re very happy it’s March,” Phil Ray, General Manager, said. “Actually, even January and February has been better. Business has been building and we’re excited to see obviously March Madness is a big shot in the arm for our community.”

Ray said the weekends have been so busy, they have brought in additional housekeeping staff to keep up.

“We’re bringing people from Chicago,” Ray said. “I know other hotels are bringing people in from Cincinnati just to get us through that weekend that’s really a crunch time.”

The Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association said hotel lodging will dip from roughly 80% on Saturday to 4% on Sunday night. This makes it difficult for people who want full-time hours.

President & CEO Patrick Tamm said restaurants are in a similar situation.

“In restaurants specifically, we may have a lot of people on our employment roles, but we don’t have enough hours or valuable hours to give people whether that’s in the back of the house or the front of the house,” Tamm said.

Tamm is hopeful the big events will bring more people back downtown. Pre-pandemic, he said about 155,000 people traveled into the city daily from the suburbs.

“Go to a basketball game, go to a great restaurant in downtown Indianapolis and see that maybe after March Madness, or during, maybe come to the office one day a week, two days a week, go support a local coffee shop,” Tamm said.

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