Hoteliers fret over Olympic room allocations

28 November 2011
Hoteliers fret over Olympic room allocations

Hoteliers are concerned that continued economic turmoil will mean many of the rooms reserved for next summer by Olympic organiser LOCOG will be returned.

With three months to go until LOCOG is due to reveal the final number of rooms it will require, the bedbank scheme is losing support, according to industry leaders speaking at last week's HOSPACE conference.

Approximately 40,000 rooms were pledged to the scheme but Premier Inn owner Whitbread pulled out after resellers - including troubled operator Thomas Cook - were found to be offering rooms at up to 10 times face value.

One London hotel group which has a number of four- and five-star properties in the capital has almost 30% of its rooms committed to the scheme, but will not know until March if they will all be required.

"All we can do is wait," said one provider, after the panel heard Ciaran Fahy, managing director of London's Cavendish hotel, tell delegates: "If you're with Thomas Cook, I suggest you get down on your knees and pray."

Fahy added that next year's games was a unique trading situation. "It is essential to have an operations plan in place. It isn't going to be business as usual," he said.

But concerns about returned inventory were not just limited to London. Outgoing Malmaison and Hotel du Vin chief executive Robert Cook used the conference to make a plea to the Government to consider the impact of high transport costs on visitors during the games.

"The Olympics is a fantastic opportunity to put the pride back into Britain and the UK back on the tourist map," he said. "But the cost of rail travel is so high that people will think twice about going outside London. If someone from France wants to come and then visit the Edinburgh festival they will find it prohibitive.

"There has to be some sort of moratorium on rail pricing, or maybe - through VisitEngland or VisitBritain - a special Olympic rail card for the week before and a few weeks after the games."

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By Elizabeth Mistry

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