Mid-week July 4th a mixed bag for businesses

July 2, 2012

Scott Kanowsky and Associated Press

Daytrippers may be flooding the streets of Chicago this Independence Day, but do not expect them to spend the night.

That is the prediction from a Elmhurst-based consultant who works with boutique hotels.

"Because it falls on Wednesday you're less likely to have people taking a day off of work and making a larger vacation of it," said Richard Mandigo, a senior consultant with TR Mandigo and Co.  Calling July Fourth a "regional holiday," Mandigo said he expects travelers to come from as far away as Iowa, but they probably will not buy rooms for the evening.

AAA Travel  Agency reports that 42.3 million people are expected to travel long distances from home this Independence Day and spend hundreds on activities. However, in an unsteady economic climate, analysts suggest travelers will work to keep expenditures down.

Costs for hotel rooms, according to Orbitz, have also spiked 16 percent from 2011, with the average room price in some of America's largest cities at $140.  Consumers have felt some relief at the pumps, though, as gas prices average out to $3.33 per gallon--previous estimates feared costs could soar to as much as $5 per gallon.

"They may come down to the city to see events going on that day, but they're probably just as likely to go back home," Mandigo said.  He added that the summer season, not just July Fourth, is a more accurate indicator of the health of the hotel industry.

"If they had a three-day holiday it [would] certainly improve things, but it's not frequent enough of an occurence that it really makes or breaks the hotel industry," he said.

Wendella Boats, which gives boat tours around Chicago's waterways, did not report the same outlook, however.  Jane Kemp, a spokesperson for Wendella, said the company sold out all of its July Fourth boat tours--which cost as much as $40 for adults--on Monday. 

A manager at the firm could not be reached for comment on Monday evening.