Arkansas Industry Insider Newsletter

COVER Test Could Fill Your Remaining Spring Break Rooms

Some savvy consumers have already planned and booked their spring break vacations this year.  For those who haven’t, here’s a chance to fill your empty rooms and help out an important program at the same time.

COVER – an acronym for Communication of Vacancies Emergency Response – was inspired by the influx of evacuees into Arkansas following Hurricane Katrina.  During that catastrophe, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 1.1 million people over the age of 16 were forced to evacuate their homes.  Many of those who fled Louisiana and Mississippi came into Arkansas – and drove past available accommodations while searching out a place to stay.  The result?  Properties on major thoroughfares were packed while lodging operators located on secondary roads still had ample availability.

COVER was developed with these travelers in mind.  In the case of a mass evacuation in any surrounding state, COVER will be activated.  Lodging managers will be able to enter the rooms they have available into the website, and travelers can log on and find those rooms within a 160 mile radius of their location.  These emergency visitors to Arkansas will also be able to enter their email address or cell phone number and receive messages along their route with lodging updates.  At the same time, Twitter updates will be available at www.twitter.com/ArkCOVER and with the hashtag #ARKCOVER.  COVER access is also available at the state’s Welcome Centers, where attendants can help locate nearby available accommodations.

But how can that help you fill those empty rooms?  From time to time, COVER should be tested.  The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism has determined different testing dates throughout the year to take advantage of high travel times – and spring break is one of those times.  Starting Thursday, March 15th at 9 a.m. and running through Monday, March 26th at 9 a.m., consumers can test the system and potentially earn a good deal. 

And that’s where you come in.  Log onto admin.arkansas.com now.  Check to make sure your information is accurate, then enter the rooms you still have available through March 26th.  Be sure to check back once or twice a day to update the rooms you have left.  It’s that easy.

During this COVER test, travel industry partners will offer available hotel rooms via the COVER program.  By choosing to book through COVER, travelers will find accommodations that have vacancies right now.  It benefits both our lodging establishments and consumers – while testing an important system in the unfortunate occurrence of an evacuation outside our borders.

For more information, check out the www.arkansas.com/COVER site.  If you have forgotten your password or need additional information, contact Sara Adams, administrative assistant at sara.adams@arkansas.gov or (501) 682-7602.

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