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What Leap Day means for the U.S. economy

Mark Simpson Feb 29, 2012

Adriene Hill: It’s leap day, which, for me, is always a bit magical. It’s those extra hours we always wish for, and I’m not the only one who likes it.

For businesses and the economy as a whole, Leap Day can be a nice little bonus. Mark Simpson reports from WMFE in Central Florida.

Mark Simpson: Central Florida just pulled off a banner weekend. Orlando just hosted the NBA All-Star Game, and the Daytona 500 crowd stuck around after the race was extended by one day because of rain. Now comes an extra day for businesses: Leap Day.

Mega marketer Walt Disney announced it’s keeping Disneyland and Disney World open 24 hours today, and that got the attention of area businesses.

Jennifer Rice-Palmer: For Disney, of course, led the way by being open for 24 hours leap year day.

That’s Jennifer Rice-Palmer, who’s the general manager at the Lake Buena Vista Clarion Inn. The hotel is located almost next door to Disney properties, so following Disney’s lead makes sense.

Rice-Palmer: We said: OK, if you come and you stay with us and you are staying more than one night and staying over the 29th, we’ll pay for that night. It’ll be completely free here at the hotel.

Economist Hank Fishkind says even though hotels might offer a free night’s stay they can still end up coming out ahead.

Hank Fishkind: The reason that happens is because not only is there the room night the rental of the room, but there’s food and beverage that people spend and merchandise and those thing are important to a hotel’s profit.

Fishkind points out that for big companies that can mean big bucks.

Fishkind: There’s about 200 work days in a normal work year and now we have an extra one. So there’ll be a little more production, people have a little more income than they normally would, and they’ll spend a little more. So there are broad economic effects. Now they’re small, 1/200th increase but never the less significant.

At Clarion Inn, Jennifer Rice-Palmer says she’s using Facebook to get the promotion out.

Rice-Palmer:We’re doing it unique for all of our friends who are liking us on Facebook, an so you have to qualify for it by coming and liking us on Facebook, but as soon as you do that you’re open to this unique opportunity.

She also reports that Facebook interest has increased and the Leap Day special seems to be improving what is usually a mid-week slump for bookings.

In Orlando, I’m Mark Simpson for Marketplace.

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