This year’s inauguration of 44th president Barack Obama is likely to be the biggest inauguration in US history. The Obama inauguration will cost upwards of $130 million; as many as 5 million people are expected to attend. As with any major event, some industries associated with the inauguration will suffer—cell phone carriers, for example, expected network overload—while others will make out handsomely.
The five industries below (well, one is a company, but could be considered an industry unto itself) are rubbing their palms in happy anticipation of the 2009 inauguration:
Delta and Northwest Airlines are increasing their capacity by more than 5,000 between January 16 and 21. Southwest Airlines is offering 26 flights between Washington DC and other regions during a similar period. Cha-ching.
4. Manufacturers and Vendors of Schwag
What kind of schwag, you ask? All kinds, from gear that protects people from cold weather to gear that protects them from STDs:
Inaugural attendees will be standing outside in the cold for more than three hours. Nonetheless, they aren’t allowed to bring umbrellas to the swearing-in ceremony. The inaugural website lists the weather as being “typically cold,” usually wet, and around 37 degrees Fahrenheit. This fact alone should make local poncho and cheap raincoat vendors drool with anticipation.
Similarly, strollers aren’t allowed on the premises. Smart vendors might consider hawking baby slings and child leashes to the brave souls who bring their children to the inauguration.
People aren’t allowed to bring more than a small snack to the swearing-in ceremony. No thermoses are allowed, and no food or drinks will be sold during the inauguration. After people make their way over to the inauguration and stand around in the cold for three hours, they will be famished and thirsty. Hot drink-, water-, and snack vendors will make a killing off hungry masses. Not to mention bars.
US News’ Matt Bandyk reports that “Obama has more merchandise in his name than the Kiss Army.” Such schwag includes the usual T-shirt and baseball caps as well as less conventional items. Like condoms. Bandyk cites the following passage on his blog:
The Obama condom, originally produced along with a McCain condom (tagline: “Old but not expired”) this summer by New York entrepreneur Benjamin Sherman continues to be a strong seller, especially after comedian Lewis Black gave it a shout-out on “The Daily Show” recently. With more than 100,000 Obama condoms already sold, it may well be the item of the year.
CNN also reports that the official inaugural schwag website is selling a designer “Runway to Change” collection, including “an Alexander Wang scarf monogrammed with the word ‘Change.’” In the spirit of the recession, the items are reasonably priced. .
3. Portable Toilet Providers
Previous inaugurations required about 300 portable toilets. This one requires at least 5,000. Portable toilet suppliers have built nationwide networks to meet demand. Nobody’s sure if 5,000 will even be enough. DC delegates have called upon government and private buildings to let the public in to do their business and shake off the January cold. Meanwhile, Port-a-Potty owners will make off like kings after the inauguration is over.
2. The Hospitality Industry
Hotel employees, many of whom will be working several shifts, won’t be elated by the region’s influx of visitors. But hotels themselves are raking it in. The DC area is already booked to capacity. Higher-end hotels like the Hilton Washington are offering package deals pricey enough to make everyman’s eyeballs pop. Their exclusive “Behind the Inaugural Bash” package gives guests an opportunity to observe hotel planning sessions and event prep for the hotel’s presidential bashes, eat a custom dinner evoking the Candlelight Dinner, tour the Hilton’s presidential holding room, attend an inaugural ball, get limo service, and get keepsakes…to the tune of $44,000 for a two-night stay.
The Cottage Hospitality Industry
DC-area hotel demand is so high for the inauguration that local residents are offering up their houses and apartments for rent at a premium rate. Picture a $1,000/night one-bedroom apartment.
1. Hargrove, Inc.
Hargrove, Inc., a DC-area company that has been the official inaugural event planner for every inauguration since President Harry S. Truman’s, is also responsible for this year’s massive inauguration. This inauguration day, according to Hometown Annapolis, Hargrove workers will design and manufacture parade floats, “coordinate 10 inaugural balls, a prayer breakfast, three candlelight dinners, the official parade and audio-video services for the events.” That’s no small feat—and Hargrove will be handsomely rewarded for its efforts.