Based on what was experienced at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia expects 50,000 visitors, jam-packed hotels and many political protests during this year’s DNC. Major events like the Olympics or a national political convention like this promise heightened excitement for the host city—from increased visitation to guaranteed media attention. However, uncertainty arises when considering the economic impacts of the convention from its start on Monday to its end on Thursday.

Many online sources contend the political conventions in Philadelphia and Cleveland won’t leave a positive impact on the local economies or businesses. Michael Gillen, Director of the Tax Accounting Group at Duane Morris, a Philadelphia-based law firm, mentions his local clients have anticipations, “ranging from an expected dip in business to business as usual to sheer madness.” Even in light of extensive preparation—on behalf of the city, local businesses and citizens—there are always economic winners and losers.

The winners

  • Food, liquor and entertainment (bars, restaurants, catering)
  • Retail (apparel, jewelry, dry cleaning services)/li>
  • Transportation (taxi and Uber drivers)/li>
  • Hospitality (hotels and rentals)

Restaurants and bars expect a major influx of people for the week, and some establishments have little to no table space remaining or have been completely booked for private events. In fact, the State Legislature permitted the Liquor Control Board to allow permits to extend “last call” beyond the traditional 2:00 a.m. cutoff to accommodate a surge of late-night visitors. Good news for restaurant and bar owners and the city alike. This arrangement should boost revenue for businesses and tax revenue for the city.

Hotels are also prepared for a spike in visitors. Gillen says “Most of our clients in the hospitality industry tell us they just do not know what to expect, but are cautiously optimistic and prepared for anything, including being prepared with excess inventory, which they hope does not turn into write offs.”

In addition to heightened traffic for traditional hotel accommodations, in light of new legislation passed by the City of Philadelphia in July of last year, Gillen mentions individuals renting their homes out to visitors will also see a boost in revenue. As rental services like AirBnB and FlipKey experience amplified popularity, the city redefined its tax collection code to include these services, which creates a more favorable climate for residents who offer short-term lodging to DNC visitors. The city’s revenue website reads, “This change [in legislation] adds a definition for Booking Agents that facilitates room rentals (ex. AirBnB or FlipKey) and allows them to collect and remit Hotel Tax on the operator’s behalf.”

This article was written by Steve Cordasco and originally published by Philadelphia Business Journal.

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