EUGENE, Ore. -- Many area hotels are likely nearing capacity as they juggle Holiday Farm Fire evacuees and families helping their students move into dorms at the University of Oregon, according to members of the Eugene-Springfield hospitality industry.
Merete Hotel Management manages six hotels in the Eugene-Springfield area. Vice President of Market Intelligence Liz Dahlager said that occupancy levels are high, but there should be enough rooms for everyone.
"With COVID-19, occupancies were lower than normal. Now all of a sudden we are very busy. That goes for any hotel probably in the area where staffing is a challenge," she said.
As evacuation levels shift, inventory at hotels across the area is in flux, according to Dahlager. Staff have been busy as they prepare for more guests. In some instances, general managers have had to help clean rooms.
"We are talking to evacuees and hearing their stories. There's a lot of love in the air and a lot of sadness, and we are busy. It's a 24-hour operation normally, but now our phone is ringing 24 hours too," Dahlager said.
According to Dahlager, hotel brands often have pre-existing agreements with disaster response organizations or agencies like the Red Cross and FEMA, who are given heavily discounted rates. Reservation requests are made through an electronic system and hotels are simply given a list.
Merete Hotel Management is not associated with the Holiday Inn Express that had to extend the stay for evacuees who were previously told they would need to check-out to make room for previous reservations.
Still, Dahlager said that evacuees and other guests need to be aware that there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes in order to assist those in need.
"Everyone in the community is committed to taking care of each other. Sometimes that process is messy and not perfect, but we are all trying. Just to be patient and know that there are enough resources and support and people working hard to make this work," she said.