Hotels could potentially face fines of up to £20,000 if they are found guilty of selling tickets to events at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Police officers from Operation Podium - a dedicated unit set up by the Metropolitan Police to tackle ticket touts and Olympic related fraud - has been liaising closely with hotels throughout London to ensure they are fully aware of the guidelines relating to the sale of tickets.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Downing, who is in charge of Operation Podium, said that by the nature of their job, concierges are likely to asked by hotel guests to obtain Olympic tickets.
"We have no specific evidence that this is currently happening, but as the Games draw closer and during the Games themselves it is expected that requests for tickets will be made to hotels," he said. "It will be the job of the concierges to guide guests towards the legitimate outlets for tickets."
Throughout the duration of the Games, tickets will only be available via official pop-up box offices throughout London or via the website of the London Organising Committee of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
Ron Crowdy, president of the professional concierge association The Society of the Golden Keys, and head night porter at Imperial London Hotels, said that he expects concierges will come under "huge pressure" to obtain Olympic tickets for guests. "We are going to great lengths to get the proper information, but the general feeling is that there is a lack of detailed information," he said. "For example, some of our most trusted agents seem to be under the impression that they can sell tickets legally."
Two police officers from Operation Podium who recently attended a meeting of The Society of the Golden Keys, are to be invited back to discuss the matter further in the New Year.
Ciaran Fahy, managing director of the four-star, 230-bedroom Cavendish hotel, said that the property's concierges are aware that they will not be able to assist guests looking to buy Olympic tickets. "The concierge team fully understand this is illegal and the importance of supporting the police and our business partner LOCOG," he said. "They operate with honesty and integrity at all time."
Peter Beckwith, general manager of the 299-bedroom Waldorf Hilton, said that training was underway for staff at Hilton hotels, including the group's network of concierges, to remind them that they should not be involved in processing tickets from potential conterfeiters or unlicensed parties.
ILLEGAL SALE OF FOOTBALL TICKETS
Detective Chief Inspector Downing said that hotels are also being made aware that, under section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, it is illegal for them to sell on tickets for a profit to football matches organised by the Premier League, Football Association or FIFA.
Garreth Walsh, general manager at the 257-bedroom Marylebone hotel and chairman of the West London Hotel Managers Association, that hotel concierges in the past have facilitated the acquisition of football tickets for hotel guests, with the price agreed in advance. "I don't think this practice is widespread as most guests use the internet for this type of thing now," he said.