• Fri
  • Nov 28, 2014
  • Updated: 11:13pm

SPORTING chance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2012, 12:00am

All eyes will be on London this summer as the British capital hosts the 2012 Olympic Games.

New hotels are under construction, with more than 4,500 extra rooms expected to be completed by July, and improved transport links and new facilities such as shopping malls, especially in east London, will benefit locals and visitors over the long term.

But while the Olympics will result in many hotels operating at full capacity during the Games, huge global events can cause disruption to the usual travel dynamics and affect the MICE market.

'Statistics show events such as the Olympics cause displacement; leisure displaces corporate travel, pre- and post-event,' says Nicolas Westen, director of sales and marketing at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf. 'Some traditional sectors avoid coming to the host city because of the perception of increased prices, lack of rooms and transport delays with so many extra people in town.'

While the hotel signed a contract in 2004 with the London organising committee, guaranteeing full occupation for the 17-day period of the Olympics and Paralympics, the property's MICE bookings have taken a hit.

'We are ahead in bookings this July against July last year, but from the end of July until the second week of September, MICE travel is practically non-existent,' Westen says. 'The Olympics is discouraging regional business and meetings travel in the short term.'

Nevertheless, a successful Olympics may boost MICE bookings in the long run by changing people's perception of the host city.

'The Fifa World Cup changed people's perceptions of Germany; this serious place suddenly became fun,' Westen says. 'When everyone - organisers, spectators and athletes - works together to create a successful event, a halo effect comes over a city.'

The Olympics will especially draw attention to east London, previously known more as a finance hub, but now developing into a trend-setting centre for art and dining.

This side of the city benefits from London City Airport, which links to Europe and New York City, good train and Underground lines, and access by boat along the River Thames.

'This is an opportunity for us to showcase London, in particular, increasingly hip east London, to the rest of the world,' Westen says. 'The media coverage will also help promote the whole of Britain as a leisure destination as it will show people that there is value for money and plenty of fun to be had here.'

Sally Beck, director of marketing at The Landmark London, expects the positive effect of the Olympics to last to 2014 and beyond.

'Hopefully we will have some pent-up demand from our usual guests who have not been able to find space this summer but will return to us in 2013,' she says.

'We are also anticipating new visitors who will be coming to Britain as a direct result of the global coverage that the Olympic brings.

'With the amount of new hotels in the city, we will be able to accommodate them at reasonable prices. For the MICE market in particular, we have new and exciting venues, fabulous hotels, great restaurants and easy transport links into London from overseas and around the city.'

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