Hoteliers have their fingers crossed that domestic tourism will fill rooms left over after high prices scared off international visitors.
Source: The Daily Telegraph
Author: Patrick Sawer
The cost of a London hotel room during the Olympic Games has dropped sharply, as an expected surge in bookings has failed to materialise.
Rooms which were being offered for an average £210 have now been cut in price to £160, according to one survey.
Tourism chiefs confirmed the fall, which comes after Locog, the games’ organisers, released thousands of unwanted hotel rooms in the capital and hoteliers began to abandon minimum stay rules, allowing tourists to book one or two night stays.
The average rate for rooms in London during the main Olympic period of July 27 to August 12 has fallen from £213 to £160 – a drop of 24 per cent – the new figures will reveal next week.
However, that is still a 75 per cent increase in prices on last year’s rates. Hoteliers had raised prices in anticipation of increased visitor numbers to the UK for the London 2012 Olympics.
The price cuts mean a double room at the four-star Britannia International, at Canary Wharf, will cost £259, compared to previous rates of £395, while a double room at the three-star London Ealing Hotel, on Ealing Common, will cost £121, down from around £150.
Last month the four-star Radisson New Providence Wharf Hotel, three miles from the Olympic Park, was showing the cheapest rate of £594, for a double or twin room, for the Games period.
But similar rooms are now available during the Olympics for between £210 and £306.
Industry experts hope say the price cuts will attract an increased number of visitors.
It is thought these are more likely to come from the rest of the UK and northern European countries. than the US and Asia, as the short-notice makes it harder for them to plan a holiday in London in time.
Seamus Maccormaic, a senior director with Hotels.com, one of the country’s leading hotel booking sites, said: “We predict that we will now see an increase in the number of domestic visitors to London during the Games period, especially those who have managed to get tickets.
“They will be taking advantage of the fall in room rates to book one or two night stays, allowing them to attend the Games and also spend some time in London.
“Others will just want to be in the capital, perhaps go to the Olympic Park with day tickets and soak up the fantastic atmosphere there will be over the Games period.”
As part of the bid to stage the 2012 Games, Locog had reached agreements with hotels to provide it with more than 40,000 rooms, representing more than 600,000 room nights during the period.
Part of the deal was that the organising committee promised to return any unwanted rooms back to the hotels so they could sell them in time for games.
The rooms, at more than 200 hotels, range from five-star to budget accommodation.
At the same time hoteliers have begun to offer discount rates in an attempt to encourage people put off by what is the high cost of accommodation in London compared to previous years.
Mr Maccormaic added: “A lot of hotels, small, medium and large, have held back until now in the hope of attracting visitors at premium rates. But they are now starting to put rooms onto the market at much lower rates because they found they just could not fill them. That means there are some fantastic bargains to be had at the moment.”
Studies have shown that an estimated 294,000 tourists were likely to visit London from overseas during the Games period, with a further 587,000 day overnight visitors from the rest of the UK.
On top of that it was estimated that around 5.5 million day trippers would descend on London during the two weeks of the Olympics and 12 days of the Paralympic Games.
The Oxford Economics think-tank had forecast that £650 million in tourist spending was likely to be generated during the five year period after the Games.
But there had been fears the high price of hotel rooms would put many thousands of visitors off coming to London during the games.
Martine Ainsworth-Wells, director of marketing communications, London & Partners, the former London Tourist Board, which said its own estimates matched Hotel. Com’s figures, welcomed the price cuts, saying it would boost visitor numbers to the capital.
He said: “We’ve known for years that business patterns do change during an Olympic year due to the nature of hotel rooms being allocated to sponsors and media first – the people who contribute hugely to the cost of the games and then released at a later date.
“With LOCOG’s recent releases, hotels can now manage their remaining availability and ensure that visitors coming to London throughout 2012 will have a positive and enjoyable experience which will make them want to return for future years to come.
“With over 100,000 hotel rooms in the capital, we have always been confident that there would be plenty of room for everyone.
“The beauty of London is that it’s a shot hop away from some of its core markets in Europe and that makes late bookings entirely possible for visitors that want to come to the capital this summer.”