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Las Vegas room rates skyrocket in advance of SEMA show next week

Travelers may experience sticker shock if they try to book a hotel for a last-minute trip to Las Vegas next week.

With the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo and the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show expected to bring in more than 162,000 automotive aftermarket professionals to Las Vegas, room rates across the valley are starting to surge.

The two trade shows are coming to town as part of the annual Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, a convention focusing on a network of distributors, manufacturers, marketers, retailers and repair shops. According to AAPEX, the automotive aftermarket industry is worth more than $1 trillion.

The two shows are held concurrently, with SEMA at the Las Vegas Convention Center and AAPEX at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. AAPEX will be held Tuesday through Thursday, while SEMA will take place Tuesday through Nov. 8.

One of the biggest room rate spikes is at the Westgate, located next to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Room rates on Tuesday are $600 a night, compared with $32 just one week later, according to Hotels.com. A representative from Westgate could not be reached for comment in time of publication.

Kelly Soderlund, a travel trends expert with travel search company Hipmunk, said room rates at properties often see dramatic spikes if a convention books blocks of rooms.

“In a town like Vegas, there’s no other reason to (have) spikes that dramatic unless there is an event (or a holiday) causing inventory to drop,” Soderlund said via email. But “proximity to an event absolutely affects hotel prices.”

But even properties far from the Strip can see their room rates climb if there’s an influx of visitors in town. Four Queens in downtown Las Vegas, for instance, is charging $149 for a room on Tuesday night, compared with $59 on Nov. 12.

Walt Lobeck, the property’s director of hotel operations, said Four Queens starts to see a “ripple effect” from trade shows with more than 50,000 attendees.

“When that reaches 100,000 it will be very noticeable,” he said via email. “Rooms are a commodity and pricing is governed by the simple economics of supply and demand.”

And while the property is miles from most of Las Vegas’ major trade shows, downtown is an appealing stay for some conventiongoers.

Lobeck said entrepreneurs and small business owners often choose to stay downtown if they’re paying out of pocket. He pointed to the Four Queen’s lack of a resort fee as a draw for price-conscious travelers.

They come “not only for the better room price but also for the more reasonable food and beverage options and, of course, the saving on parking,” he said.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands owns and operates the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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