Hotel Occupancy Down in Williston - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Hotel Occupancy Down in Williston

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Hotel rooms across the country are commonly booked for business trips, weddings and other short-term occasions. But in Williston, that hasn't been the case. For the past three years, hotels have been booked solid with customers staying long term. But as additional units begin to come online, vacancy signs are lighting up.

"It's kind of a common misconception right now. Even people in other states, we are hearing, 'Well, you can't get a hotel room anywhere in Williston', and that's really not the case," said Grand International Hotel employee Jeni Wilson.

Jeff Smith, who owns The Vegas Motel agrees.

"That used to be a huge issue before we had a lot of other hotels. There just weren't any places to stay, because companies were booking entire motels. They were taking everything up, which creates the problem and persona that Williston doesn't have any rooms, but we've dealt with that."

In the past three years, twelve new hotels have been built, increasing supply from 607 rooms, to nearly 1700.

"With demand and supply, the supply has grown. And so our occupancy has dropped in the last two years from 80 to 90 percent, to now we're running at 62 percent. That doesn't mean we have less people staying here, it means we have more rooms on the market that are being absorbed," says C.V.B director Amy Kruger.

But hotel rooms in Williston are still run a little differently, mixing extended stays with overnight guests.

"Fifty percent," says Smith. "We run 50 percent long-term in the motel, and then the other half is overnight guests."

Wilson agrees, saying her hotel offers special rates for long term stays.

"Our property specifically, I would say it's about 50-50. Fifty percent long term, fifty percent kind of transient, as in even people who come for a couple days and then go home and come back a couple days later."

The long term aspect allows hotels to lock in rooms months in advance, and it helps the companies out as well.

"A lot of the companies don't want to sign year long lease agreements and they do have workers who rotate out. So they'll get a hotel room and rotate people out of that hotel room and they can't necessarily do that as easily with a long term apartment lease," says Wilson.

And while weekend nights might be the busiest throughout the country, it's the total opposite in Williston.

"Mondays are our best day by far. We usually book Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, most of them check out on Friday, head back to wherever they are from, and then return again on the following Monday," says Smith.

But even on a weekday, rooms at both hotels are available if you book in advance. And that's good news for those considering a summer time trip to the Western Star City.

 

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