Some Alaska tourists experiencing canceled hotel reservations upon arrival

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 2:13 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A trip to Alaska is something many people look forward to each year. Some call it a dream vacation, and it involves a lot of planning ahead, including finding a place to stay.

With COVID-19 vaccinations widely available and less travel restrictions in place, tourism season is finally back in Alaska, which is good news for our state. However, some tourists are running into an issue when they get here.

“There’s a couple of factors going on that my clients are telling me when I pick them up to go on their tours,” said Scott Stansbury, a local tour guide and owner and operator of SSP Studio and Gallery in Anchorage

He said several of his clients have complained to him about having their hotel room reservations canceled upon arrival.

“The hotel rooms that they booked last year are no longer available because the hotels are closing out half the rooms because they don’t have maid service or housekeeping to clean the rooms and get them ready for the next guest,” he said.

Stansbury said his clients that are affected by the last minute canceled reservations are angry.

”It has really aggravated the tourists that are flying in because they go to check into their room (and) they don’t have a room,” he said. “Now they’ve got to scramble to try to find something.”

Stansbury also said several hotels are operating at 50% capacity due to a lack of employees.

Alicia Maltby, president and CEO of Alaska Hotel & Lodging Association also said several properties around the state are only opening up a percentage of their inventory, but said a lack of employees is not necessarily the reason for canceled room reservations.

“I have not heard about canceling (hotel) reservations because of a shortage of workers, (but) I have heard a lot of properties are not putting their full amount of rooms into inventory to be sold,” Maltby said. “But I would say they’re selling the rooms that they have available based on the number of workers they have to maintain.”

She also said the reason some tourists might be experiencing canceled hotel reservations is because they’re not booking directly through the hotels.

“Sometimes they get redirected to a non-validated third party, and then they make a reservation, and that has been a scam that has been going on for a while,” she said. “If everybody’s been booking directly with the hotels, then I can’t imagine that they’re getting their reservations canceled without reason or cause.”

Despite the frustrating situation that many of Stansbury’s clients are experiencing, he says he’s still doing his best to ensure they have a good time on their trip.

“I have completely altered all of my tours to not only do A, B, C, D, but I’m throwing in E, F, G, H, and I’m doing everything because I want to be a good host and I want people to understand why I love living here,” he said.

In the meantime, he offers this advice to those who are planning to visit the 49th state.

”Call your hotel, call your rental car (company), call your tour guide — call and verify,” he said. “Make sure you’ve got a guaranteed reservation (and) you’re gonna have a room.”

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