George Nebe isn’t a Bears fan, a Colts fan or even a football fan, but he’s loving the Super Bowl because it means big – though unexpected – business for his employer, Cruise America.
The Northwest Times, Munster, Ind., reported that with all but the most expensive air fares to Miami and Fort Lauderdale sold out for the Super Bowl weekend, the Schererville, Ind.-based branch of Cruise America rented 17 of its 22 available RVs by 10 a.m. Monday (Jan. 23) to football fans looking to travel south for the big game on Feb. 4. In the following hour, the company had rented the 18th vehicle and by 4 p.m. the 19th was gone.
“We’re going crazy,” Nebe said Monday. “We started getting calls at 6:30 a.m. this morning. They were on the answering machine when I walked in. I should have raises prices. I didn’t, but if I had a brain I would have.”
Colts fans began calling the dealership right after their team clinched the AFC championship Sunday night, Nebe said. Colts fans had depleted the 17 RVs in stock at the Indianapolis location by mid-morning.
The majority of the Schererville dealership’s Super Bowl customers are from Illinois and Northwest Indiana, but three are from Indianapolis, said Nebe, who described himself as a “water sports lover.” He watched both games Sunday because not to do so “would be un-American.”
“Bears fans, Colts fans, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s first come, first served.”
The RVs, which each sleep seven people and get 8 to 10 miles per gallon, are “a steal,” Nebe said. Hotel rooms are renting for $650 and higher per night from Feb. 2 through Feb 5 even at hotels outside the Greater Miami area.
“Prices are crazy,” Nebe said. “Hotel rooms costs a fortune.”
Cruise America’s RVs are renting for $1,760 for five days, Feb. 1 through Feb. 6, normally a time when the local RV business is in hibernation, Nebe said. Cruise America’s competitor, Rollin-On RV’s in Schererville, doesn’t begin taking reservations until Feb. 1 and doesn’t rent its recreational vehicles until March 1, an employee said Monday.
“Ours are normally in mothballs until Kentucky Derby,” Nebe said, adding there’s no comparison between the Big Race and the Big Game in the intensity of the quest for his RVs.
“People don’t care what they’re paying now,” he said. “They say, ‘Just book it.’ People just don’t care about the cost. It’s a frenzy. Who gets phone calls on Monday morning? It’s cold, dreary, there’s snow on the ground. but people are very excited. So am I. Twenty-two times $1,760. Life is good.”