Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

US eclipse travelers met with sky-high prices – and reservation snafus

US eclipse travelers met with sky-high prices – and reservation snafus

Hotel rates in states in the path of the solar eclipse on Monday have surged to astronomical prices, with some eclipse watchers traveling from across the country to find their reservations canceled and sold for several times the original price.

Millions of Americans are expected to travel to witness one of the most spectacular celestial events in recent memory, with the moon’s path of totality set to sweep across 15 states, along with parts of Mexico and Canada, bringing with it more than a billion dollars for local economies.

Those looking to book accommodation in the center path of the “great American eclipse” have seen rates soar and hotels sold out, with analysis from the New York Times showing one hotel in Grayville, Illinois, advertising rooms for nearly 10 times their usual nightly rate.

In Buffalo, New York, where as many as a million visitors are expected to flock for a prime viewing spot during the eclipse, hotel and flight bookings were up four times from a similar time period last year, according to analysis by Chase Travel.

Amid the clamor for accommodation, one travel agency said it had been forced to rearrange lodging for more than 150 people after bookings made two years earlier at two Buffalo hotels were canceled. Rooms that had cost $129 to $159 were canceled and resold at $450 or more, according to Sugar Tours, owner, Chris Donnelly, who said it was “total price gouging”.

“Of course this was all about the profits,” Donnelly said. “I have a feeling that they never even entered our rooms into the system and just sold them and waited until 30 days prior to let us know. Thirty years in the business, have never had this happen.”

Manga Hotel Group, who owns the Aloft Buffalo Airport and Hampton Inn & Suites Buffalo Airport, said the cancellations of the rooms had been due to a mistake with overbooking. No canceled rooms were resold as new reservations, it said.

The region’s tourism bureau, Visit Buffalo Niagara (VBN), said it worked with the individuals who had received cancellation notices and that it “does not condone this business practice of canceling room bookings”.

“We find it shameful that longtime customers and new visitors are being treated this way,” Patrick Kaler, president and CEO of VBN, said. “Putting greed before the visitor’s experience and the destination’s reputation is unacceptable.”

Source: theguardian.com