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Businesses reap JPW profits

Malone, Mary Kate | Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The parents that descended upon South Bend last weekend not only created lasting memories with their junior children, but also, to the pleasure of many South Bend businesses, pumped money into the city’s economy in the process.Despite the tight schedule of events planned for the event, tourist spots like the College Football Hall of Fame experienced an increase in visitor traffic throughout the weekend.Katie Berrettini, director of marketing for the Hall of Fame, said Junior Parents Weekend visitors contributed to a successful weekend, though the crowds were nowhere near the numbers experienced during a football weekend.”JPW certainly has an impact and it’s usually a good weekend. It’s a great crowd for us and we always experience an increase in February traffic,” she said. The Hall of Fame hosted a private party Saturday night for about 450 juniors and their parents, the largest party the museum has ever hosted for JPW, according to Berrettini.Hoping to lure students and parents to stop by in between the scheduled events on campus, the Hall of Fame increased its advertising and offered incentives. “We specifically target the parents coming in as well as the kids. We run ads in The Observer and put fliers and coupons in hotels where the parents are staying,” Berrettini said. Unlike restaurants and tourist destinations that lured in customers with these advertising tactics, local hotels like the Inn at Saint Mary’s were able to increase hotel rates by as much as 15 percent and still reach maximum occupancy.Jeff Arthur, general manager of the Inn at Saint Mary’s, said the hotel was booked six months in advance for JPW. But due to unexpected water heater complications, the company was not able to reach the sales it had been expecting.Since hot water was not available for certain hours during the weekend, some Saint Mary’s Inn guests sought accommodations elsewhere, Arthur said. Guests that chose to stay were given refunds. “The water heater situation dramatically impacted our business. Financially, we did not make as much money as we anticipated,” Arthur said. General managers at Panera Bread and Houlihans said that they did not notice any significant increase in customer volume, though they did not anticipate it either.”I added a few more work people for the weekend, but as far as adjusting what we make food wise, we didn’t make any changes,” Panera general manager Brian Hall said.Though off-campus restaurants reported little change in customer volume, dining spots located within walking distance of JPW events experienced significant sales increases. Dave Prentkowski, director of food services for the University, said that business doubled during the weekend at locations such as the café at Hammes Bookstore. Reckers and Subway experienced approximately a 10 percent increase in sales as well, Prentkowski said.Legends was also a popular destination with the JPW crowd. “Anytime there is a major event on campus we have more people in general proximity and it’s convenient for people to come [to Legends]. It’s an available option and a great location,” Prentkowski said. As expected, many visitors flooded the bookstore. Sally Wiatrowski, director of retail operations at the bookstore, said there were long lines to order and pick up class rings during the weekend.Wiatrowski said that working her first JPW was highly enjoyable.”It was a really, really fun weekend,” she said. “It was nice to have customers in great moods and good spirits and enjoying the festivities.”