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Olympics doesn’t mean full rooms, warns hotelier

By Luke Nicholls , 16-Nov-2011

Related topics: Business, People, Olympics, Hotels

London hoteliers are being warned that next year’s Olympics may not have the positive financial repercussions many predict and that the event may in fact lead to a drop in occupancy figures.

Jonathan Raggett is managing director of Red Carnation Hotels and chairman of the Annual General Managers’ Master Innholders’ Conference

Jonathan Raggett is managing director of Red Carnation Hotels and chairman of the Annual General Managers’ Master Innholders’ Conference

Jonathan Raggett, managing director of Red Carnation Hotels and chairman of the Annual General Managers’ Master Innholders’ Conference taking place next January, believes anyone who thinks London hotels will be full for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics are ‘kidding themselves.’

Speaking to BigHospitality, Raggett said: “I am not one who believes London is going to be so full next year with the Olympics. In all of my properties, I am taking business as I can get it.

“People tend to turn away from big cities when major events are going on. Hotels put their prices up, restaurants are more expensive and taxi drivers want premium rates.

“With three hotels in South Africa, the 2010 World Cup did not materialise with rooms and fortunately I read that situation. I believe those people in London who think we are going to be full for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics are kidding themselves.”

Cutting costs

Red Carnation Hotels manages 13 hotels worldwide, with six in London and one in Dorset. The Milestone Hotel and Hotel 41 – both within the Red Carnation portfolio – are ranked numbers one and two for hotels in London on reviews website TripAdvisor.

Outside of London though, business remains much tougher and Raggett believes hotels in the provinces must cut costs in the right places to keep customers coming through the doors.

“I do have one hotel outside of London and the key thing is that you have to reduce costs to where you can,” he added. “But the biggest thing you mustn’t do is cut costs that your guests are going to see. If you’re advertising in glossy magazines for example, I would say stop that type of thing - but don’t cut your sales team.

“You have to look after each and every guest more than ever, exceed their expectations. If you can do that effectively, then it’s a recipe to keep your business afloat.”

General Managers’ Conference

Sebastian Coe CBE, chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, will be opening the General Managers’ Master Innholders’ Conference on 16 January. The two-day event, titled Going for Gold, invites general managers of UK hotels to come together with various keynote speakers including New York restaurateur Danny Myer to discuss issues and challenges facing the hotel industry.

Topics and issues covered include technology, market trends and Hospitality Action and The Ark, which looks into issues of alcohol and drug abuse within the industry – an issue that Raggett believes is ‘massive and needs to be tackled.’

To book a place at the conference or to see the programme go to www.masterinnholders.co.uk .

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