Exclusive research undertaken by Caterer and Hotelkeeper has found that the majority of hospitality operators thought the Olympics were bad for business. Although the operators that hosted officials and media, as well as those close to events, were busy and made a profit, 70% of respondents said the games had either no impact or a negative impact on business.
One operator based in London said: "We had researched other host cities and identified a downturn in business during the games period. However, the downturn began at the start of July rather than the end, which surprised us. Based on the information provided by TfL we arranged a night shift for the kitchen to take deliveries but the impact of the games traffic on the roads was not great during the day so we have incurred additional costs in running night shifts."
Another said that London Mayor Boris Johnson was to blame for encouraging people to stay out of London: "All my clients are in central London. They cancelled all their work with us in August because of the negative comments by the Olympic organisers about traffic and accessibility to central London, which has had a disastrous effect on our business."
However, of the 150 respondents, 85% said they were well prepared to make the most of the Olympics. Some 30% felt the benefit, reporting a fairly or very positive impact. One said: "As a business we were well prepared, and have taken advantage of new opportunities that have arisen because some of our competitors were not so organised."
Another reported their hotel was full at a strong rate. "The guests are happy and the team are enjoying it," they said. "Our guest satisfaction survey is indicating that we will have plenty of repeat business."
Indeed even those that said they had not fared so well were optimistic about the long-term effects of the games on tourism. A respondent said: "We are 40% down on turnover; however we believe that long term the games will have a positive impact on business."
Most operators (81.3%) said that they ignored marketing restrictions made by Locog, despite the hard line taken by the organisation on using Olympic messages.
By James Stagg
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