How Much Do Hotels Inflate Their Prices On Weekends and Special Events?

hotel rates, hotel prices, hotel discounts


Nobody is surprised when the price of certain products rise as the weekend begins, and then fall again when the weekend ends. The two most common items that fall into this category are gasoline and hotel prices. We’re all used to the ebb and flow of the prices, so it’s not shocking to anyone. What did shock me, however, was the amount that one of these products can be inflated.

I registered for a marathon later this year, and immediately searched out a hotel room. I knew the hotel rooms in the area would fill up fast, and would come with a premium price tag attached. I found an available room at a major hotel chain near a pick up point for the shuttle that would take me to the start line. I booked the room at a rate of $334.00.


I was curious just how much the hotel jacked up the price for marathon weekend, so I got online and checked how the rate changes:

  • Monday Night: The price to stay in the exact same room on a normal Monday Night is $142.
  • Friday Night: The price to stay in the exact same room on a normal Friday Night is $190.

My marathon weekend rate is jacked up 75% from a normal Friday, and 135% from a Monday night stay. So, why do hotels rase the rates on weekends and on special event weekends?

The answer is, because they can.

An in-law of mine in the food service business calls it the “captive audience phenomenon.” A family attending a sporting event that is in the mood for food or beverage has no choice but to buy them from the vendors in the stadium. Therefore you get $8 sodas, $6 boxes of popcorn, and $6 hot dogs. I’m traveling hundreds of miles to run a marathon and need a good night sleep before I hit the asphalt for a 26.2 mile run. Hotels jack up the price knowing this, and can get away with it.

But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

What have you overpaid for simply because you were experiencing the captive audience phenomenon? How much would it have normally cost you?


Image courtesy of  David Castillo Dominici at

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • We are looking at hotel prices right now because we plan on going on a road trip. There’s hotels in Vegas that are usually around $50 a night that we like (The Flamingo and Golden Nugget). However, the days that we want to go, the price is $500!

  • When there’s an event, the price hike definitely gets more painful. Normally, there’s generally a $20-40 price difference per night (and still, ouch!). But during the Super Bowl, even the crappy motels by us — nowhere near downtown or even on a good bus line downtown — were $100 a night. Normally $40ish.

    We felt bad that our friends who stayed with us kept taking us to dinner… until we realized we had saved them hundreds for their 5-day stay.

  • @Clarisse – Oh yeah, they definitely increase on the weekends…..that’s why we’ve tried to do family getaways during the week when we can!

  • @MoneyBeagle – There’s definitely truth to that…it just seems odd though. I wonder if we’ll ever see the price of cold drinks go up in summer, or warm drinks in winter?? It just seems extreme to see the price of something go up and down within a few days of each other.

  • @Michelle – YIKES, that’s a crazy price explosion! That runs the full spectrum of prices – $50 usually gets you squat for a room…whereas $500 a night better come with a list of amenities a mile long.

Leave a Comment