Hotel Cash Grab for Harley anniversary: Up to $600 per night
Some hotels are charging double or triple their rates for the Harley-Davidson anniversary celebration Labor Day weekend.
by Stacy Vogel Davis
Reporter- The Business Journal
Would you pay $600 a night for a Waukesha hotel room?
You might if you were a Harley-Davidson rider desperate to make it to the 110th anniversary.
Hotels across Milwaukee and Waukesha counties are booked for the Labor Day weekend celebration, as I report in the May 31 issue. I found about half a dozen hotels still advertising rooms on travel sites such as Hotwire and Travelocity.
The most expensive hotel I found was the ironically named Price Pointe Inn in Waukesha. It’s asking for $599 a night for the weekend of Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. You could book that same hotel this weekend for $120 per night.
Owner Mark Portz was unapologetic about the price.
“It’s a worldwide event,” he said. “It’s probably one of the larger demand festivities in the area.”
Portz said he saw many hotels sell out early charging double or triple their normal rates, but he figured he could hold out for even more. He pointed out that if four people share a double-bed room, it’s only about $150 per night per person.
He’s even thinking of offering the land around his hotel to campers during the celebration, he said.
I found one even more eye-popping figure in my online search. Candlewood Suites in Brown Deer was listed earlier this week on Booking.com and Priceline at $949 per night, although by Friday it had come down to $541.
But owner Atif Khan said he doesn’t expect anyone to pay that price. He’s actually trying to discourage people from booking through travel websites. If you book through the hotel, the rate is $369 per night, he said.
For this weekend, the rate at Candlewood Suites is $114 per night on Hotels.com.
“If somebody does pay $949, I’ll find them a room in my house,” he joked.
Eric Bates, general manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites Milwaukee Downtown, said there was a lot of price gouging for the 105th anniversary celebration in 2008, and it reflected badly on the Milwaukee tourism industry.
“A standard hotel room should not be astronomically high for an event like this,” he said.
But he said he hasn’t seen many examples of price gouging this year.
“I think the hoteliers have done a really good job for this event at keeping the rates reasonable, although high,” he said.