ISSUE: Hotel Prices During Something in the Water Were Higher Than Normal. Surely, the City Can Do Something to Lower the Costs!

FICTION: For the most part, the City has no say over what private businesses charge for goods and services. 
​​​​It’s certainly true that the inaugural Something in the Water festival was a resounding success, with 35,000 tickets sold and an estimated economic impact of $21.7 million. And the 2020 festival promises to be an even bigger event. When demand outstrips the supply of a limited resource (hotel rooms, in this case), prices tend to go higher. We see this around major holidays and the summer season in general when hotel rooms are in higher demand.

As it relates to hotel prices, there are two applicable laws. The first is Virginia code, chapter five, section 35.1​. It states that hotels "shall post in a conspicuous place in its office a list of the ranges of the charges for its rooms and shall post in each guest's room the maximum charge for that room.” The law doesn’t control the price itself but requires a hotel to post the charges and room rates as they are currently set by the owner.​

​The second law is the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act. ​ This one is a high bar to meet with specific conditions, however it does offer consumer protections against price gouging in the event of a declaration of disaster by either the Governor of Virginia or the President of the United States. Lodging is considered a “necessary good and service” by the law, however the requirements for the law to kick in simply aren’t there during the festival weekend.

We’ve been fortunate to not need that law recently, and hopefully it stays that way. 
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