London looks set to be ready to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people expected to pour into the capital for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 and avoid the over-development and over-pricing of hotels experienced by previous host cities.
With the official opening of the 1,021-bedroom Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel on Monday, the city is on target to have 120,000 bedrooms available in the run-up to and for the duration of both events. There are currently just over 100,000 bedrooms in London.
The announcement this week that Travelodge will be opening three hotels in London in time for the Olympics, adding 307 to the bedroom stock, will be a boost for the budget sector of the market.
And to avoid the price hike for hotels, venues and hospitality suppliers which have adversely affected other Olympic cities, the 2012 UK Events Industry Fair Pricing & Practice Charter has been created by Visit London and VisitBritain and supported by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has become the first hotel group to sign up to the charter, which is the first of its kind to be created for a major international event.
"As the first hotel group to commit to the Fair Pricing Charter, we recognise that the 2012 Olympic Games present us with a unique opportunity to showcase our product on a global stage," said Ruaridh Macdonald, sales and marketing director at Macdonald Hotels & Resorts.
The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is supporting the principle of the Fair Pricing Charter, but as most of its hotels are franchised it does not set room rates across all of its properties. "We will work closely with our owners to prevent unfair pricing throughout the games," said Chris Hale, head of London 2012 for IHG. "The Olympics are not a gold mine."
While it is expected that there will be some inflation in the price of accommodation during London 2012, it is hoped that the charter will prevent the three-fold price increases that were seen in Atlanta in 1996 and Athens in 2004. This, together with the over-development of hotels that was seen in Beijing where the number of hotels increased by 44% prior to the games, resulted in empty rooms.
"London is a very different city from Beijing in that it generally runs at 80% occupancy and there is always demand for hotel rooms here," said Chloe Couchman, business and major events manager at Visit London.
"As well as the games themselves, LOCOG will be driving people into London through the Cultural Olympiad, which will run throughout 2012."
Chief executive of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Richard Hartman said that the legacy of the Olympics was the most important factor to consider.
"If hotels have been over-built then the city will not have a healthy hotel environment for many yeas after the Olympics have finished," he said. "I expect 2012 to be good for the hotel sector in London because I don't anticipate over-supply."
Plans are already well advanced for the booking of 53,000 bedrooms for the members of the International Olympic Committee, sports officials, key sponsors and accredited media by LOCOG.
The rest of the bedroom supply will be available for spectators. Visit London will direct visitors to those hotels which have signed up to the Fair Pricing Charter.
E-mail your comments to Janet Harmer here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next hotel job here with Caterersearch.com jobs