Businesses in the Upstate and many portions of South Carolina are positioned to court new and potentially repeat customers this month as hotels, restaurants and visitor centers prepare for the total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21.
Simon Hudson, director of the Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development at the University South Carolina in Columbia, said it is difficult to predict an economic impact of the eclipse but an event like this provides a way of introducing the state to new visitors.
“Studies show that once we get visitors to South Carolina they enjoy it and plan to come back,” he said, adding that an event like the eclipse provided businesses and communities an opportunity to showcase their offerings.
“We call it event leveraging. These events bring in the people, but more than that, they give awareness to the brand,” he said.
According to the eclipse 2017 website, Greenville will experience a total solar eclipse at 2:38:03 p.m., and will experience about two minutes and 10 seconds of totality.
The VisitGreenvilleSC visitors center office has “been getting all kinds of calls and interest” from out-of-towners interested in viewing the eclipse in Greenville, said Brenda Connell, who works on public relations for VisitGreenvilleSC for TK Public Relations.
“Every downtown hotel is booked, as well as many on the outskirts,” she said. The eclipse webpage is second in visitors, only behind the main VisitGreenvilleSC webpage, she said.
Larry Bell is general manager of the Hyatt Regency Greenville, which is one of the hotels booked for the eclipse.
“A lot of the business travelers we get are coming back with their families,” Bell said. “We get to see our guests in a whole different way.”
Bell said it is unusual for the hotel to be booked on a Saturday, Sunday and Monday. “It is undoubtedly because of the eclipse,” he said.
Daniel Locke, director of sales for the Courtyard Marriott, also has seen the unusual stay pattern … being booked on a Sunday night.
“We typically have down time on a Sunday,” he said, adding that from the conversations he has had with the reservation desk, it is mostly regional travelers who will be staying at his hotel.
“That makes sense. Most people will come in on Sunday night, then go home after the eclipse because of having to go back to work,” he said.
Note: Be sure to check out Places in the Upstate to watch the solar eclipse.