Businesses get ready for increased crowds

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    By JASON HABERMEYER

    With over 30,000 expected for Education Week, businesses across the valley are gearing up for one of the busiest weeks of the year.

    Neil Carlisle, director of Education Week, said that close to 3,000 individuals will be housed on-campus at Helaman Halls, Deseret Towers, and Heritage Halls and that the remaining attendees have to find their own hotel and other accommodations.

    “We do use all the available housing and it’s pretty much filled up,” Carlisle said. “We send out a housing newsletter in March to everyone who has registered for Education Week the past two years and housing is filled by the end of April.”

    Over $3 million dollars in attendee and sponsor spending will take place, according to Loretta King, director of communications for the Utah County Convention and Visitors Bureau. King estimates that based on last year’s figures almost one-third of that spending will be on accommodations alone.

    “Basically the perception given is that hotels are full during that week,” King said. “The yearly occupancy rate in 1998 was close to 60 percent full so during that short period of time rooms are pretty much full throughout the area.”

    LaRae Arave, manager of Days Inn in Provo, said that the hotel has been full for Education Week for close to two months. She said room rates may change for the week as well.

    “What we do is make a flat rate where one or two people (occupying a room) will likely pay more while three or four will pay less,” she said. “It’s one of the busiest weeks for us of the year.”

    King said that over 1,000 rooms have been added to hotels in the area since 1995. She also said that with an average room rate of $65 dollars a night generally most are able to find accommodations for the week.

    “With the increase in rooms, people have less difficulty in finding something than they did maybe three to five years ago,” King said. “I would say everyone is able to find a room but at their price range is another thing entirely.”

    Restaurants also account for a significant portion of visitors’ spending money for the week. With so many establishments in the area, coupons are just one form of winning over customers and their money. Michelle Embry, manager of Brick Oven, said that Education Week has a major impact on its business.

    “It is definitely one of the busiest weeks for us because we’re so close to campus,” Embry said. “A lot of customers will come in and say coming to Brick Oven was the highlight of their week because it is the only time of the year they can come and the only reason they came.”

    Embry said that the restaurant is fully staffed for the week and that it discourages employees from taking vacations during that time. She also said that reservations are taken because smaller parties are more frequent, unlike during graduation.

    Tracy Blackinton, manager at Magleby’s, said the restaurant is currently hiring for both graduation and Education Week due to the fact that business almost doubles for just those two events. She also said that although waits can get longer during that period, the restaurant does a pretty good job of getting customers in and out.

    “I think we’re a great restaurant because we’re able to serve everyone rather quick and we know they don’t want to miss their classes,” Blackinton said. “We’re consistently busy but we want them to have a good time.”

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