London hotel room rates have sharply fallen during the Olympic Games this summer. This comes as the surge in bookings everyone expected simply hasn’t happened. During the main period of the Olympic Games – July 27-August 12 – rooms that had been priced at an average of £213 have been reduced to £160. Despite this, the price of a room is still 75% more than last year.
It’s been estimated that 294,000 tourists are likely to visit the British capital from abroad during the Olympics. Another 587,000 day overnight visitors have been predicted to be in London from the rest of the UK. In addition to this, it was estimated that about 5.5 million day trippers would visit the city during the two weeks of the Games and 12 days of the Paralympic Games. However, thousands of visitors have been put off for fear of high hotel room prices.
The fall in hotel room rates comes after the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) released thousands of unbooked hotel rooms in the capital. Organisers had reached agreements with hotels during the bid to stage the 2012 Games to reserve over 40,000 rooms. This represented over 600,000 room nights over the event. The committee also promised to return any unbooked rooms so hoteliers could sell them to other visitors in time for the Games.
Hotel operators had increased prices in anticipation of a surge in visitors to the UK for the event. After the LOCOG released its unbooked rooms, hoteliers started to abandon minimum stay rules and began to allow travellers to book one or two night accommodations. Experts are hoping that the price cuts will bring more visitors to London. It’s believed that these travellers are more likely to come from other parts of the country and northern European nations – compared to the US and Asia. This is because it’s harder for them to plan a last-minute holiday to the British capital in time.
Hotels.com senior director Seamus Maccormaic says that they anticipate to see an increase in the number of domestic visitors to the capital during the Games – particularly those who have been able to get tickets. Domestic visitors will take advantage of the drop in room rates and book one or two night stays. This will allow them to go to the Games and spend some time in London. Other visitors will want to be in the capital to see the Olympic Park with day tickets and to enjoy the atmosphere of the Games.
Maccormaic added that many hotels – no matter their size – have held off lowering their prices until now, hoping to attract visitors at premium rates. However, they are starting to offer rooms at much lower rates now since they haven’t been able to fill them. This means there are some great bargains out there right now.
London & Partners director of marketing communications Martine Ainsworth-Wells welcomes the price drops. He says they have known that business patterns change during the Olympics due to the nature of allocated hotel rooms to sponsors and media first. With the recent release of the unbooked rooms, hoteliers can manage their vacancies and ensure visitors to London will have an enjoyable and positive experience that will make them want to visit again in the future.
Ainsworth-Wells added that they have been confident all along that there would be plenty of room for everybody – with more than 100,000 rooms in London. The beauty of the capital is that it’s not far from some of its core European markets, making last-minute bookings possible for travellers who want to visit during the summer.
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