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Tallahassee hotels already seeing the impact of FSU’s in-person graduation

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 6:58 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A boost for businesses is coming to Tallahassee this spring after Florida State University announced Thursday that in-person commencement will be happening.

FSU will hold 11 ceremonies over 2 weekends in April.

Students are ready to celebrate and businesses are excited for more traffic in Tallahassee.

With graduation now scheduled to happen at the Civic Center, hotels told WCTV that rooms are already being booked up; restaurants and cafes say they’re getting prepared for not one, but two busy weekends.

The hustle and bustle of graduation preps are already underway at local hotels.

“It was a welcome sound to hear that switchboard ringing here, at the Hampton Inn & Suites, and really every hotel in Tallahassee,” said Regional Manager of the Hyatt House and the Hampton Inn & Suites, Bo Schmitz.

The new Hyatt House, located in Railroad Square, opened 10 days ago. This news puts it off to a strong start.

“It’s huge,” said Schmitz. “To start off with large events when we haven’t had those in the last year, it’s critical to our success.”

Other hotels are also seeing the boost.

“As soon as they announced it yesterday, we’ve already seen an influx of people coming to the city,” said Hotel Duval’s Jay Green. “Especially coming into session, a lot of that business is starting to trickle in. It’s coming last minute, but it’s coming, which is good.”

In the past year, businesses haven’t seen the traffic from traditional university events.

“There’s no in person tours for campus, there was no in person orientation for the summer,” explained Carolina Niebla, a barista at the Catalina Cafe.

Longtime business Donut Kingdom also felt the pinch during the pandemic.

“We were counting on the college, and the students and families,” explained the owner, Adam Khalil. “All of the activities going on at the college, but for the whole last year, there was nothing going on.”

As a parent of college students himself, Khalil says he’s excited to see the celebration.

“We’re thankful to the people in town that they really support us,” he said.

Others say the two weekend event could actually be better than other years, spreading the wealth.

“It’ll be a longer period of time where people are coming in with their families for graduation, so we’ll have more business in that week,” said Niebla.

The spaced out celebration also maximizes the use Tallahassee’s available hotel rooms.

“We’ll be able to accommodate them here in all of our hotels in Leon County, without losing them to surrounding communities,” said Kerri Post.

Post is the Executive Director of the Leon County Division of Tourism, also known as Visit Tallahassee. She’s optimistic about the spring.

“The future is bright!” said Post.

Tallahassee Community College told WCTV Friday that they are planning on a virtual celebration. It will include a celebration video and a personalized celebration package. The college’s website has more information here.

FAMU says they are still evaluating what they’ll be doing, whether that’s in person or virtual.

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