LONDON, England – London hoteliers are being urged to keep their rates at reasonable levels during the Olympic Games next summer to avoid a repeat of the disappointing turnouts for Beijing 2008 and the recent Royal Wedding in the city.
Supply was expected to be overwhelmed by demand for the events, but many hotel owners were forced to revert to their original prices in attempts to fill their rooms at the last minute. Many of the visitors that descended on London in April opted to camp on the streets because of the high rates as hotel occupancy levels fell during the week of the wedding by almost 23% on the previous year.
Since setting up camp is not an option this time around, price hikes are being discouraged to attract as many visitors to London as possible. The capital is expecting an estimated influx of “at least a million extra people,” according to the chairman of LOCOG, Lord Sebastian Coe, but even if tourist numbers reach anywhere near that level, hotel rooms are likely to remain empty if the proposed hikes go ahead.
Some hoteliers and, indeed, landlords are considering more than quadrupling their rates during the Games, which threatens to create a similar effect to that which Beijing experienced when it hosted the Olympics in 2008. To the bemusement of the capital’s hoteliers, just over half of the expected 400,000 tourists arrived for the Games three years ago, leaving tens of thousands of empty overpriced beds across the city.
Davor Parker of LondonNights, the established online booking service for London hotels, has expressed his concerns: “The problem hoteliers face is that so many ticket holders are now well aware that some hotels and certainly many landlords offering short term lets are, in some cases, planning to increase their rates four- or five-fold during the Games, so they will quite rightly be put off staying with them.
“The price hikes in April kept guests away during the Royal Wedding when they were expected to come flooding in, so some hoteliers are now starting to think about hardly increasing their prices at all to avoid another disappointing turnout.”
With the eyes of the world set to be on the UK for over two weeks next summer, reasonable room rates could be instrumental in endorsing long-term tourism in the capital. This, consequently, reinforces the importance of hoteliers resisting the temptation of a short-term cash-boost in order to maintain a positive image of the city as a popular tourist destination for years to come.
“Tourism is precisely what makes this city such an exciting and diverse place to be, so it would be a huge shame if the industry comes to suffer in the future as a result of hosting the Olympic Games,” added Davor Parker.
It is policy for many hotels to limit booking to 300 days in advance, especially via website aggregators such as Expedia, so the rates for next summer are due to be released this September.