Washington D.C. Hotels Did Break a Record on Inauguration Weekend, Just Not the One the White House Needs
New hotel booking data for the weekend of Donald Trump‘s inauguration suggests attendance was not the highest ever, as the White House has stated.
From Thursday, January 18 (the night before the inauguration) through Friday, January 19 (the night of the inauguration and the night before the Women’s March on Washington), hotel occupancy in Washington D.C. was at 95.2%, a spokesperson for Destination DC, a private, non-profit that runs the city’s official tourism site, confirms to PEOPLE.
In January 2013, the district’s hotels were only 78.3% occupied for the second inauguration of Barack Obama. But in 2009, Obama’s first inauguration saw occupancy at 97.2% for the same period of time, edging out Trump by 2%.
A spokesperson for Destination DC points out that “the city has added 4,000 hotel rooms since 2013, so there is a greater inventory of rooms today” than were available for previous inaugurations.
Both presidents’ inaugurations were bested, however, by the July 15, 2014 Microsoft meeting in Washington, which saw its highest occupancy — 98 percent — since Destination DC started keeping track in 2001.
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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated on Saturday that the crowd at Trump’s swearing-in ceremony was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” a claim that has also been disputed by D.C. Metro ridership data from the day, and one that Trump has gone to great lengths to uphold.
On Thursday, PEOPLE reported that National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds was personally contacted by Trump to produce additional photo proof that showed the size of crowds on the Mall and could back up the president’s claims.
“The president believed that the photos might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average,” said three sources who have knowledge of the conversation.
In the week leading up to the inauguration and the march, the popular home sharing site Airbnb, predicted about 15,100 guests would be arriving to their listings that weekend. Hosts were estimated to earn a collective $5.9 million, 11 times more than during the weekend of the 2013 inauguration when there were only about 800 Airbnb listings available for the area. The city’s previous check-in record was held by October 8, 2016, when 8,100 guests arrived for Game 2 of the playoff series featuring the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Hotel prices for the weekend of Trump’s inauguration, however, did break records. The average daily rate for Friday through Saturday this year was $708.88, compared to $464.79 in 2013 and $599.14 in 2009, according to Destination DC data.