While the weekend of July 4 is naturally a busy tourism date in the city, an unparalleled spike in hotel reservations occurred following the shows’ announcement. After all, with attendees from all over the globe, three nights at a 71,000 capacity venue allows for a lot of visitors seeking lodging -- and the dozens of other musical (and other) events in the area that that weekend, does nothing discourage those not holding a Dead ticket from enjoying a visit to Chicago nonetheless.
As a result, Chicago hotels had a record 11-fold increase in reservations the day the shows were announced, according to Orbitz Worldwide Inc. The increased demand raised the average room rate to $282, up 86 percent from the previous year, the biggest increase on record for July 4 weekend, according to the same study. For specifics, check out this quote from a report in Skift, a travel industry trade journal:
Premiums at some hotels are even steeper. A room at the downtown Holiday Inn Express is selling for $509 a night, up from $128 last year, according to Orbitz. At the Warwick Allerton Hotel Chicago on Michigan Avenue, room rates more than tripled to $484 a night.
That same article implies we may see record occupancy and revenue at area hotels.
That said, a simple scan of listings on cashortrade.org, show dozens of fans with hopes of trading premium hotel space for a ticket. Even with many of the downtown hotels sold out, it appears lot easier to find a place to stay that one of the coveted Dead tickets. There are still plenty of spaces available close to Soldier Field if you're willing to pay higher than average rates. Or, you can save some money by staying in available rooms further out (rooms near O'Hare can be had for less than $100) and use the savings to arrange rides to and from the shows or public transportation.
Or simply wait it out. With liberal cancellation policies, it's likely that many fans that couldn't score their ticket will simply bail at the last minute. Rooms may end up liquidated on sites like priceline.com, hotwire.com and hotels.com in the final days until the weekend arrives.
While hotels aren’t the only option for visitors, it appears that every market was hit with a similar demand.
Airbnb, the service that allows homeowners to list their apartment or house for travelers, has seen a 95 percent increase in bookings from a year earlier. This makes the concerts among the top three demand-drivers for Airbnb along with the Super Bowl and South By Southwest festival, according to a regional director of the company. They are now running a promotion that allows one lucky host to go backstage with drummer Bill Kreutzmann during one of the final shows.
For a real budget option, camping is also available, but you may find yourself many miles from the city's epi-center. Both the Prankster Campground, and a temporary site known as GD50 Camping in Hampshire, IL will offer Dead oriented camping options.
From hotels to tickets to pre-and-post-show nightlife, Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary will undoubtedly be taking over Chicago for three days this July. Follow The Barn to keep up with “Fare Thee Well” tour updates.