Cupid’s aim depends on the dayPublished 10:36am Friday, February 14, 2014
By John Ewoldt
Minneapolis Star Tribune
MINNEAPOLIS — What a difference a day makes. With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday this year, hotel operators are loving it.
“We’ve been sold out for two weeks,” said Natasha Hamilton, hotel manager at the Nicollet Island Inn in Minneapolis. “We’re very busy for February.”
Total spending for Cupid’s holiday, which is celebrated by 54 percent of consumers according to the National Retail Federation, is expected to reach $17.3 billion. Fifty-four percent of men will purchase flowers and 53 percent plan to go out to dinner, according to American Express Spending and Saving Tracker research.
When Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday or a Saturday, couples find it easier to arrange for a sitter and don’t have to worry about returning to work the next day, said Bill Morrissey, president of Morrissey Hospitality Companies in St. Paul, which operates the St. Paul Hotel and several restaurants.
But when the 14th occurs somewhere between Sunday and Wednesday, hotels don’t see much of an uptick, except from a few traditionists who insist on celebrating on the 14th. This year, many couples are planning a two-day staycation, extending their rendezvous from Friday to Saturday night as well, said Morrissey. “We’ll see a 40 percent increase in business this weekend,” he said.
Restaurants also fill their reservation books on Valentine’s Day, but conventional wisdom says they prefer Cupid’s arrow to drop early in the week, when they have more empty tables. Weekends are typically the busiest time for restaurants, and the 14th just adds to the clamor.
Kip Clayton, vice president of business development at Parasole Restaurant Holdings in Edina said it’s not always that simple. When Valentine’s is celebrated on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, couples choose one night out and it’s done. “I guarantee you that restaurants will see up to two times the revenue this year than if Valentine’s had fallen early in the week,” he said.
On a Friday, some restaurants see solid bookings from Thursday through Sunday as some couples wait until Saturday or Sunday night to celebrate.
“Couples aren’t so locked in to the 14th anymore,” said Clayton. Part of the reason is that Valentine’s is often viewed as a night for inexperienced diners.
A lot of real diners skip that night and go a day or two earlier or later, he said. Other diners want to avoid the prix fixe menu at $75-plus per person and go on a different night when they can order off the regular menu.
More couples seem to be more willing to delay the celebration to save money or fit it into their busy schedules, especially at restaurants and hotels.