The Olympic Games may be the greatest show on earth, but for travel managers, it’s creating quite a difficult situation as the search for reasonably priced business travel accommodations in London during the 2012 Summer Games is proving to be a grueling one.
The Olympics are scheduled from July 27-Aug. 12, a period when the city’s hotels are overstretched even during a normal summer. The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (which run from 29 Aug. 29-Sept. 12, 2012) has reserved two-thirds of the city’s entire 53,000-room stock for the event.
Are you ready? Here are some things to consider:
1. Act today!
If you’ve not acted yet, you must take immediate steps to have any chance of helping their travellers during the Olympics (July 27-Aug. 12) and Paralympic Games (Aug. 29-Sept. 9).
2. Review your London travel needs
Ask all departments to outline their anticipated demand for travel to London in July, August and September. Are meetings planned? How many of your travelers usually visit the city during this period? Are there any major corporate projects that will require trips into central London?
3. Consider imposing a blackout
Communicate across your organization that travelers should — or must — stay away from London during the Games.
4. Find alternative locations
If employees need to meet during the Games, but the location is flexible, direct them to cities elsewhere in the United Kingdom. If they need to be in London for daytime appointments, look for accommodation within an hour’s rail journey, in Oxford or Milton Keynes, for example.
5. Talk to your top hotel suppliers
Companies that must have accommodation for business travelers during the Olympics should talk to hotel suppliers with whom they have the strongest relationships. Some hotels are working very closely with corporate customers to accommodate regular clients’ needs.
6. Consider extended-stay properties
Some extended-stay brands are imposing only marginal increases on their apartments during the Games. They consider the Olympics an excellent opportunity to persuade potential corporate clients to try their product.
7. Remember the impact on air travel
Increased demand is tightening summer flight availability to and from London. Corporate agreements can really make a difference in getting seats for your travelers, so talk to your suppliers now.
8. Prepare for potential disruptions
At best, London will be a difficult city to move around during the Games, owing to the exceptionally high number of visitors and heightened security. If officials issue any security alerts, journey times could stretch even longer. Remind travelers to allow plenty of time between appointments and to create contingency plans for getting around London.
9. Keep everyone in the loop
Communicate your plans and protocols to everyone who will be affected and send updates as the Games get closer.
10. Take advantage of helpful resources
Check out the London 2012 ‘Travel Advice for Business’ site.