Limited space may shoot hotel prices too high for graduation

With Florida A&M University’s annual spring commencement just weeks away, representatives from several area hotels reveal that limited room availability will cause an increase in prices.

Bryan Colton, front desk manager at Ramada Inn on North Monroe said most area hotels are compelled to raise rates because of the ever-increasing demand.

“During special events like football games and graduation, everyone is subjected to paying higher rates because more employees and more services are needed to accommodate our clients,” said Colton. “Our job is to provide professional and quality service. Therefore, our rates are based on supply and demand”

Satira Quarles, a spokesperson for the Regency Inn agreed. “This is peak season when we have a high volume of traffic and people are looking for top-notch accommodations and services,” she said.

“We may not always have rate increases, but we do have more of a demand for accommodations and that means we have to increase the hours that some of the employees may work.

However, if there is an increase, we would only do it because it’s what the market will bear.”

FAMU and Florida State University’s commencement activities fall on the same weekend, which is the main reason for hotel scarcity.

“Most people realize that they need to make reservations early to avoid the rush,” said Nicole Williams, a management official for Microtel. Unlike hotels that are centrally located in the downtown area, Microtel is situated just outside the city.

Many students are finding that the scarcity of hotel space in town has caused their families to stay in surrounding cities.

Some families are forced find space as far away as Valdosta or Cairo, making it a long commute to graduation day activities.

“Once people realize that everybody is trying to get reservations near campus, they turn to us,” Williams said. “We start to fill up rather quickly and increase or not, we almost never get any cancellations during this time.”

Since many students live with roommates, staying with students is not easy for family.

“Finding hotels with space in town has been impossible. My family will be staying in Quincy because everything is completely booked,” said Tiffini Gillespie, 22, a senior business administration student from Atlanta.

Other members of Gillespie’s family have turned to other alternatives as a solution to the hotel problem.

“The rest of my family are coming down just for graduation and leaving that night. They just didn’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a hotel or paying high prices.”

Apartment complexes designed for college students don’t usually provide enough space for extra people.

“When my brother graduated, my parents wanted to save money by staying at his apartment, but quickly learned that this was a bad decision. There wasn’t enough room and his couch was uncomfortable. By the time they decided to move to a hotel, it was too late because everything was full,” said Traye Prince, 21, a senior business management student from St. Louis.

The demand for more room availability has sparked the emergence of new hotels in town.

With the rapid construction of the new Residence Inn on Gaines Street, Rattler families will soon be able to stay within walking distance of campus.

Although improvements are being made, it will be a long time before the problem is under control.

The number of hotel rooms are not enough for the number of families and friends attending graduation.

“Parents should be able to focus on their child graduating,” Prince said. “They shouldn’t have to be distracted by finding a place to stay.”

Contact Brittany Donald at