Selling Rooms Online: High Price Better than No Price

According to this piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune, rooms around San Diego this weekend are going for $667 a night and more. And that’s just for the tony climes of the Super 8 Motel in Mission Valley, or the Holiday Inn Express. If you want to swing over here to La Jolla then you’re going to be set back $1,000 a night at the less than spectacular Empress Hotel.

Why the absurd prices? Blame a “triple-witching hour” of events, including the opening of race season at the track in Del Mar, the annual Comic-Con Convention, and the Acura Tennis event up in Carlsbad. The result: there are simply no rooms to be had.

So, if there are no rooms to be had, why are prices listed and so high? Here is why, according to the story:

… in the new world of online reservations, a hotel will get a more prominent slot on the Web sites if it lists a price, no matter how high, than if it shows no rooms available. And with droves of people booking over the Internet these days, a good slot is crucial, the hoteliers say.

“We don’t want to be off the page,” said Jairo Pereira, the Internet manager at the Ramada Inn & Conference Center. “We are just safeguarding ourselves.”

Pereira is right. Many hotels, including some of San Diego’s most well-known properties, show no rooms available for the weekend. They include the U.S. Grant, the Marriott San Diego Hotel and Marina, and the Wyndham San Diego at Emerald Plaza.

These hotels show up very low on the Web pages, more than a dozen listings below the Holiday Inns and the Ramadas.