Some businesses thrive when Legislature is in session

Aloft Hotel stays busy when lawmakers are in town. Photo by Devon Watson

Hundreds of faces – some familiar, some new – began flooding downtown Tallahassee earlier this month for the start of the 2020 legislative session.

While lawmakers typically hold their 60-day session in March and April, it’s not uncommon for them in even-numbered years to opt to star the session in January.

During their time in Tallahassee they vote on bills being presented and craft a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. And for every one of the 160 elected members of the Legislature, there are at least a dozen lobbyists working the halls of the Capitol.

Their combined presence in Tallahassee for two months can have an economic impact in this college town. Some businesses around the Capitol benefit from the session, make no mistake.

Many legislators live far from the Capitol, so they choose to book hotel rooms in town. Aloft Hotel room attendant Jessie Hinton says that during the session the hotel is constantly busy.

“I generally see politicians come stay no less than five days at a time,” Hinton said. “On the weekend some travel back home to their family while others don’t leave until the session is over.”

Jermaine Stephens, a front desk agent, has worked for Hotel Duval for over five years. He agrees that during session months he rooms are consistently booked. During session room prices increase from $139 a night to $229. The hotel makes a major profit having high demand rooms being booked at higher rates.

“During the two months of session, Hotel Duval can easily see a 40 percent increase in revenue,” Stephens said.

Drivers with ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft said visitors from all over come to the Capitol. With more people needing rides than there are drivers on the road, ridesharing companies implement surge pricing. Surge pricing comes when large amount of people in one area are demanding a ride.

Everyone attending the Capitol is on a strict schedule and catching a ride somewhere makes it convenient, especially if they are not familiar with Tallahassee. Riders are charged extra money to get around during surge times.

Thaddeus Shaw has worked for Uber for more than seven years. Shaw says he uses his time off from his other job to Uber full time during session and takes home about an extra $200 a week then normal.

George Frisbee, a server at The Egg Café & Eatery, George Frisbee said his busiest times of the year are during football season and session. Frisbee has been the head server at the eatery for eight years. This breakfast and lunch restaurant is located about four miles northeast of the Capitol building.