It's one of the hotel industry's dirty little secrets (the other, of course, is the profits made from on-demand porn) that tragedies are good for business. Every hurricane season, for example, inland hotels throughout the Southeast fill up with Florida and Gulf Coast residents fleeing from storms. Properties in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas were filled for months following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Now, unfortunately, the death of Michael Jackson is coming to the rescue of the ailing lodging industry, at least in Santa Barbara County, CA. According to tabloid website TMZ, hotels around Los Olivos sold out in minutes following the news that Jackson's body might be taken to his Neverland Ranch for a public viewing or memorial service. The Fess Parker Wine Country Inn said it sold out the house for the coming weekend within 20 minutes.
Hoteliers shouldn't feel ashamed or queasy when they capitalize on others' misfortune. In reality, the industry is providing a service to people who need it, often in desperate times. On the flip side, hotel operators must also resist the urge in these situations to gouge these guests. That would be something to be ashamed of.