Not a single room, not even at a bed & breakfast, is available in Walla Walla for the weekend of Aug. 14-15.
Everything sold out within days of the announcement that award-winning British folk band Mumford & Sons would perform at the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Festival that weekend, said Ron Peck, director of Tourism Walla Walla.
Onsite camping at Veterans Memorial Golf Course is included in festival ticket deals, Peck said, but some people wanting to attend the concert expressed doubts about even coming if they couldn’t find a hotel room.
“At this point, we just want people to come,” he said.
So what to do when you have one of the biggest parties of the summer planned and realize you don’t have enough beds? Talk to your neighbor about sparing a room or thousand to help.
Tourism Walla Walla has partnered with Visit Tri-Cities and Travel Pendleton, as well as the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, to make sure festival-goers know there’s still plenty of lodging available within an easy drive of Walla Walla.
It’s an arrangement that is likely to benefit all, filling hotel rooms during a relatively quiet weekend in the Tri-Cities and helping Walla Walla bring in the estimated 25,000 people expected to attend the festival.
“We’re pleased to help, we’ll take their overflow,” said Kris Watkins, president and CEO of Visit Tri-Cities.
There are about 1,300 rooms available for lodging in Walla Walla. A recent check with those offering those rooms, from hotels to private rentals, revealed that everything was booked out for the festival weekend, Peck said.
The Tri-Cities has close to 3,800 rooms in its inventory, Watkins said. And out of sheer luck, most of those rooms are currently unbooked during the festival. A large conference of the Jehovah’s Witnesses will be in the Tri-Cities the weekend before and the community would have had little to offer then.
The arrangement has Walla Walla tourism officials directing questions about lodging to Visit Tri-Cities and Travel Pendleton. Watkins suspects some of the hotel chains in Walla Walla are also referring inquiries to their sister hotels in the area.
It’s not clear what kind of effect the demand for lodging from the festival will have, Watkins said, but she will follow up with hotels afterward to learn what their traffic was.
Coordination among tourism agencies in the region isn’t new, Peck said. His office has worked with Visit Tri-Cities and their colleagues in Yakima on efforts connected to the “Washington Wine Country” promotion in the past.
While this latest partnership is on a whole new scale, there’s no reason not to work with others when everyone can benefit, he said.
“The truth of the matter is we want to work with our partners when we can,” Peck said.