Downtown Wichita hotels plan for business to pick up as game day draws near

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) — By Wednesday, crowds of people from across the U.S. will be coming into Wichita for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Many will be needing a place to stay, but as of Monday, some downtown hotels where teams will be staying say they haven't been as busy as they'd hoped in terms of reservations from fans following teams to Wichita.

The day after Selection Sunday, you might think phones would be ringing off the hook at downtown Wichita hotels. But so far, that hasn't been the case.

The Hyatt Regency Wichita says its hopeful to have more rooms booked by fans as we get closer to Thursday and the start of the games.

"I think that based upon the phone calls (Monday) morning, that people are waiting," says Hyatt Regency Sales Director Tami Barker. "I think more of the local folks around, mainly in the state of Kansas, will probably wait as they start to see rates in the city start to fall a little bit if hotels aren't filling up."

Barker says she expected Sunday night to be busy once teams were selected and it became known who's coming to Wichita.

"We then found out the teams that would be staying here at the hotel and then just waited for the teams to start calling and making their plans and their travel arrangements," she says.

The Hyatt is one of five hotels hosting NCAA Tournament teams in Wichita. They're counting on that hosting to help bring in more fans. But for some schools, travel difficulties could have an impact, Barker says.

"We did hear from one school that since there was not any direct flights to Wichita, that they did not anticipate their fans would travel. But this is a team that's significantly far away," she says.

In addition to hosting teams for the tournament, the Hyatt is on hotel enforcing a minimum-stay requirement for this weekend. As of Monday afternoon, rates are high.

"Rates are at their peak right now and if they don't start filling, people are going to have to start reevaluating what rates they're charging," Barker says.

For hotels like the Hyatt, that could mean changing the minimum requirements and lowering rates for incoming fans.

"That makes hoteliers nervous," Barker says. "But for better rates, that probably is the best, because as hotels don't fill, they're going to have to start thinking about what they're charging."

The group at Visit Wichita is keeping track of hotel bookings across the city. Members do say, as of Monday afternoon, the downtown hotels are booking faster than the rest of the city and if you're planning to stay near Intrust Bank Arena, they suggest booking sooner rather than later.