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Short-term gain at the expense of the long haul makes no sense

06 September 2005

Jonathan Raggett, chief executive of Red Carnation Hotels, argues that those who attempt to extract short-term gain from the 2012 Olympics will miss out in the long term.

Given the events of the following day, it's been understandable that the euphoria over London winning the right to host the Olympics in 2012 was all too brief. But it's worth reflecting, even at this early stage, the effect this might have on the hotel trade in London, and what we can do to ensure a successful games both for the city and for ourselves.

First of all, the victory for Lord Coe and his team is obviously a massive boost for London and the UK as a whole. For a few weeks in the summer of 2012 London will truly be what it often is assumed to be by its inhabitants: the centre of world attention.

And it might initially seem that there's very little we as hoteliers can do other than what we are already doing, that is provide excellence in service and desirable facilities. It may appear much more a case of what the city can do for itself.

For all its faults, and we all know what these are, London rightly remains one of the world's prime destinations. The sort of improvements Athens achieved, especially in such areas as transport and general 'facelifting', would almost guarantee that visitors who enjoy what London already has to offer would leave with an even greater desire to return.

With the massive influx of opinion-formers who are bound to arrive to cover the games, this is critical to London's continued economic health in the years and decades following the games.

From this perspective, the 'little we can do' referred to above takes on a much larger significance. The hospitality we provide leading up to and during the games will play an essential role in confirming London as one of the world's premium destination. As part of the Olympic bid, every hotel in the city has committed to providing accommodation and ensuring that London is marketed properly to the world.

Everyone expects that this in turn will require additional effort as capacity is strained to bursting, and we need to ensure that we're fully prepared to meet the strain without compromising the quality that made us successful in the first place.

It also means resisting any temptation to go for short-term gain at the expense of the long haul. The Olympics will be a festival period, but we need to make sure that everyone present enjoys the feast, or risk famine as the aftermath.

Jonathan Raggett is chief executive of Red Carnation Hotels Jonathan Raggett is managing director of boutique hotels group Red Carnation, which runs nine hotels in England, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA. For more information visit www.redcarnation.com

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