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Hotels struggle to fill rooms

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

October 20, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Fewer people are spending the night in Albany. Hotel occupancy rates in the city were down more than 13% from July to August. Rooms are full only half of the time, and that's bad news for hotel operators. As they head into the slowest time of the year for business, they may be forced to cut hours or even lay off employees.

Another empty hotel room. On average, this is the case for all hotel rooms in Albany every other day. "Over the weekends, people are not traveling for the leisure business. It's definitely gone down," said Jaye Lomax.

Which means revenue is down for hotels, too, by about 11%. Lisa Riddle with the Convention and Visitors Bureau said, "It's pretty comparable to Georgia, we're probably a little low for the national average."

Jaye Lomax is the marketing Manager of Comfort Suites. She says fortunately business travelers are remaining steady during the week, but weekend business is down significantly. "We need more conventions, more weekend business."

Because the empty rooms don't pay for themselves. Which means as the slowest time of the year approaches for hotels in Albany, some may be forced to lay off employees. Lomax said, "It's definitely going to happen. I see it. If not layoffs, hours will be cut for a lot of people."

But there is hope for a slight increase in business, due to a decrease in gas prices. Riddle said, "That's one of the big things, is the cost of gas, just people driving here. Not so much the cost of the hotels, but the cost of gas to travel, but gas is decreasing, that should definitely help us." And fill the empty spaces in hotel rooms in Albany.

October occupancy rates should be much higher than August thanks to Albany State Homecoming.

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