London hotel room rates are 20% cheaper than this time last year, despite the focus on the city due to the Olympic Games, according to online retailer lastminute.com.
Although not allowed to promote London trips using Olympics trademarks because it is not an official partner, lastminute.com says it is still promoting London and has seen a response.
Matthew Crummack, lastminute.com president, said: “There has been a clear, noticeable impact on occupancy in London as a couple of factors have had an impact.
“One is that most businesses have stopped having meetings in London. The planes and trains that usually are coming into London with businesspeople are mostly empty. Business is not operating in London at the moment.
“The other impact is that consumers have been led to believe that it was going to be prohibitively expensive to come and stay in London.
“But there are some phenomenal opportunities out there for customers to come to London and stay in town in some wonderful properties and enjoy the atmosphere of the Games.”
Crummack said if reports about many London hotel rooms were lying empty were true it was difficult to apportion blame.
“There is a whole ecosystem of issues that blend together in how room availability was controlled, marketplace economics and supply and demand.
“It would be an oversimplification to lay the blame on anybody’s door.
“I would not say it’s bad revenue management, I would say that people make assumptions about pricing and availability based on the forecasts that they have been given.”
Lastminute.com has been pushing a positive message telling people it is not too late and that London is open for business.
Crummack said the feedback from the Sydney Olympics was that the event was challenging in terms of room occupancy.
However, he remained upbeat about London. “We are incredibly optimistic about London as a destination.
“There have been legacy opportunities created and the Games have been delivered so exceptionally that it has been a fantastic advert for the country.
“We tend to be pretty positive about what will happen. Clearly before the beginning of the Games no one knew what to expect.”
Although some London theatres and attractions have reported that takings are down by as much as 40%, Crummack said most had predicted a downturn but that things had not been as bad as expected.
“We were expecting it to be worse than it was,” he said. “We are trying to help out our theatre partners right now and we are available for them when they need us.”