Hotels cut prices while staff help the injured

14 July 2005
Hotels cut prices while staff help the injured

Hospitality businesses rallied to support those in need following the bomb attacks in London last week, but some hotels were accused of profiteering, according to BBC reports.

Among those businesses rallying to help those stranded in the capital and assist emergency services was the Hilton Metropole, situated near the Edgware Road bombing.

It set up a triage centre and took in 100 of the walking wounded over a three-hour period. Hilton said it cut its rates to around one-third of normal charges. A spokesman for the group said he believed most major chains and independents behaved "impeccably".

Fay Sharpe, head of sales and marketing at event and hotel booking agency IBR, said the Hilton Metropole and the group's Paddington hotel, which was evacuated during Thursday "acted above and beyond the call of duty".

"Staff were well organised and well informed in a very distressing time," she said. "They inspired a huge amount of confidence in those around them."

Marriott was also praised for reducing rates and trying to find rooms for those left. Jurgen Giesbert, Marriott's executive vice-president for UK, Ireland, Middle East and Africa, said: "A time like this is not a time to reap profits at the expense of others."

But the BBC reported last Friday that the increased demand caused by thousands of workers being trapped in London had led some hotels to hike prices.

Sharpe said she was stunned at the behaviour of some hotels, which did not honour pre-negotiated rates.

"One large London hotel group told us they would ‘charge whatever they wanted to'. It was opportunistic and very bad news for the industry."
She also reported tales of hotels charging guests exorbitant cancellation charges or fees well above rack rates.

E-mails from the general public to the BBC claimed that some people were charged £270 for a £65 room, while another person claimed they had paid £250 for a room normally costing £80.

Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, reacted to the claims with caution.

"If there is evidence of people exploiting these circumstances, let's name and shame them, but most of the big groups operated sympathetically - you don't exploit customers you want to return."

Richard Lyon, general manager of the five-star, 356-bedroom Renaissance Chancery Court hotel in Holborn, London, said: "If some hotels have done that then I certainly don't think it was the right thing to do. It's something that we would never even contemplate. Our ballroom was being used as a police de-briefing centre and we provided food and overnight rooms to the police free of charge."

Hoteliers did not profiteer after bomb attacks, says report >>

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