As Inauguration Day approaches, the city and government officials are busily preparing for the event, and businesses in the Washington Metro area are getting ready as well.
During the last presidential inauguration, long before the big day, hotels were booked to capacity and people in DC, and those in nearby Virginia and Maryland, were offering their homes, apartments and rooms for rent, in some cases, at outrageous prices.
While this writer hasn't observed much, if any, of this activity occurring in 2013, it's possible locals may be renting their places, but the need may not be there. Several media outlets have reported hotels are not booked to capacity, unlike 2009. Some reports also indicate, however, in this last week leading up to Inauguration Day accommodations may fill to capacity. The slowness in booking may help bring prices down compared to what they were four years ago (although some "ridiculous" deals can already still be found this time around, notes DCist
notes one vacation rental website noted 61 percent capacity for rentals for inauguration weekend at this time.
Hotels are not the only metric to go by, as there are taxis, restaurants, coffee shops, street vendors and others that will profit off the weekend. Several tour companies are also advertising package specials to see the sights.
A Fox News
report indicates despite this being a smaller affair than the 2009 inauguration, businesses still expect to see profits.
“Everybody needs a cup of coffee,” said Kate Gibbs, a spokeswoman for Destination D.C., the non-profit group that markets District businesses.
As this reporter walked through the downtown area yesterday, it was evident businesses were anticipating lots of people. Throughout downtown, street-side vendors, as well as several shops, are already selling inauguration souvenirs, including buttons, flags, t-shirts, sweatshirts and more.
The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is also gearing up for Inauguration Day. It is offering special Commemorative SmarTrip cards for Metro riders. Metro sales are going to up, and since the majority of card purchasers won't likely be reusing their cards, purchasers will get a souvenir out of the $5 fee charged to buy a card to load fare money on.
"The demand for Inaugural SmarTrip cards has steadily increased as we approach Inauguration Day," said Lynn Bowersox, Metro Assistant General Manager for Customer Service, Communications and Marketing in a press release
. "Besides being an excellent way to avoid lines at ticket machines on Inauguration Day, the cards are a wonderful keepsake of this historic day."
Barbara Lang, president and CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce told CNN
that business leaders were hoping to see 2 million people this year, but as, authorities have noted, attendance is expected to be much lower in 2013. Estimates are placed at 600,000 to 800,000 people.
Lang offers some visitor tips, including comfortable shoes and to avoid backpacks as to facilitate security. She also advises to simply enjoy the day.
"Just really enjoy the moment. This is a terrific city. Obviously, I am the cheerleader in chief, but it is a wonderful city, and we want people to come here and enjoy themselves. Spend a lot of money and come back often," Lang said.