NEW YORK If you stayed in the city during the Republican National Convention, this news won't surprise you: Business was slow that boom to the city's hospitality and retail industries that Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised. Businesses around Madison Square Garden suffered the most, reporting sales off at least 50 percent. And the 40 hotels that agreed to discount and hold rooms for convention delegates were informed mere weeks before the RNC that 4,000 of the 18,000 hotel rooms wouldn't be needed after all, leaving hotel managers scrambling to fill those rooms at discounted rates.
Hotel managers speculate that delegates shared hotel rooms or opted not to bring the family to save money (all delegates had to foot the hotel and transportation tabs for their visits to New York), or conversely, booked their own rooms at more luxe hotels, which explains the smaller number of hotel rooms needed. In fact,
the only hotel that was booked solid for the week was the Waldorf=Astoria, which housed the first family and the rest of President Bush's entourage.
Another reason behind many empty rooms: Protestors who booked rooms and then didn't show up. The New Yorker hotel had 21 no-shows, and when the hotel tried to bill a penalty to the credit cards that held the reservations, the hotel found that 14 of the accounts were fake.