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Hotels throughout Joplin’s Jasper County found themselves at about 93% occupancy after the tragedy of the 2011 tornado. The amount of people they housed had nearly doubled in less than a week due to displaced people and emergency assistance groups. This might have prompted hotels to raise their rates. However, Dr. Stephanie Hein, professor of hospitality and restaurant administration, discovered that the hospitality industry instead worked to help the community.
“We’re often on the front line as far as providing services, if its restaurants providing meals or hotels providing shelter. I really think it’s a big win for our industry. We’re doing what we need to do and taking care of people in need,” Hein said.
In her research, Hein found that hotels had the opportunity to raise prices while their demand was high but instead, their average daily rate on rooms only increased about eight dollars. Hein said there was an emotional factor to this.
“You have this business just rocking and rolling, but then you see so much devastation in your community. So there is that human piece that is really challenging,” Hein said.
Hein extended her research from the Joplin area to compare statistics of the industry where another strong tornado had hit parts of Alabama and Georgia. The results followed the pattern of Joplin, ensuring the community that the hospitality industry would help when needed.
Dr. Hein’s full report will be available through MSU later this fall.
For KSMU news, I’m Anna Thomas.