2012June 2012 . www.conference-news.co.uk . 23 OLYMPICSHBAA comment:Andrew Deakin, Director of Conference Care and Marketing Chair at HBAA tells CN: "Visit Britain needs to continue to bang the drum long after the Olympics are over, to ensure a lasting legacy for our busy and growing city."Deakin says his records show that September to December 2012 will be a diffi cult time for the industry with event bookings currently looking 40 per cent down compared to the same period in 2011. September is a particularly weak month, according to his fi gures which show event bookings are down 78 per cent on 2011."With short lead times becoming the norm, I expect the 40 per cent fi gure will drop to 20 per cent as more bookings are made closer to the event date, but it will be a case of suck it and see for most venues," he says."There are fantastic offers to be had across the country up until the end of the year, with many towns and cities outside London dropping their prices to get the business being moved away from the Olympics," he adds.Visitors Research released at the World Travel Market (WTM) Conference London, in November, found the UK will welcome an additional 330,000 international visitors as a direct result of hosting the London 2012 Olympic Games. Euromonitor International's Head of Travel and Tourism Research, Caroline Bremner, told senior travel industry delegates at the event, organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), the UK will welcome 29.4m international visitors this year, an increase on 588,000 in 2011. The number of international visitors coming for London 2012 represents less than one per cent of the total UK inbound market.
OLYMPICS24 . www.conference-news.co.uk . June 2012June The QEIICC's Commercial Director, Sue Etherington, echoed Parker's comments. She told CN: "It is important the meetings industry capitalises on the interest in London that the Olympics has generated. There are great PR opportunities. Once you have been successful in hosting the world's largest event, the PR and legacy opportunities are valuable to all."I am sure leaving a lasting legacy is always a challenge for Olympic cities, but London is very focused and prepared. I believe our city has been one of the best in delivering a vision for a sustainable legacy from the Games, both socially and economically. It is important that this is allowed to grow and fl ourish."Once the lights go out and the greatest show on earth has left town, the race for meetings gold will really commence. +44 (0)20 7616 8501 | www.lords.org/eventsLord's Meetings & Events. Unique and versatile rooms. Capacity for 20 to 600 delegates. Competitive Daily Delegate Rates. Ideally located within central London. Quality food from our own catering teamFlexibility and creativity for the perfect eventEvent organisers will be able to make use of the Olympic venues, post-Games, for their eventsBremner told delegates that domestic visitors were crucial to the success of the Games, saying that around 70 per cent of the eight million tickets sold had gone to British people. Another speaker at the event EasyJet UK MD, Paul Simmons, said that the airline had seen "no signifi cant impact on bookings" because of the Olympics and suggested that "BA would probably say the same". Furthermore, London hotels appear to be missing out, according to the world's biggest online travel business. Expedia MD UK, Andy Washington said that worldwide bookings for fl ights into Manchester Airport during the three weeks of the Olympics were 40 per cent ahead of the same period last year. International bookings into Scottish airports are 31 per cent higher. "I can't say for sure that these people are staying in the regions and travelling into London to see the Games," Washington said, "but I can't think of any other reason why the growth should be so big". Washington admitted that London hotel prices during the Games had been high thus far, but average daily rates were likely to come down as more rooms were released for tourists. Hoseasons Group MD, Geoff Cowley, said his business was not able to comment because it does not have any London-based product but he said that Hoseasons had participated in the government-backed 20.12 per cent promotion because it wanted to be part of the legacy that domestic tourism would benefi t from once the Games concluded. Travel company, TUI UK MD, David Burling, said that "the inbound and outbound industries need to come together so that the authorities make sure the airports work". Euromonitor International's fi ndings suggest that while the number of international visitors may appear modest, the real benefi t of London 2012 could be the long-term boost to domestic tourism. Challenge and legacy opportunityThe MD of Church House Conference Centre in Westminster, Robin Parker, said London had a strong meeting and events market that shouldn't suffer the same fate Athens did in the legacy stakes. "Business post-Olympics will be much more about the general state of the economy both here and in Europe and it will therefore be important that we continue all the good practice that has got us through the last three years," he told CN."With a lot of business continuing to be booked on short lead times, predicting what will happen next year is very diffi cult. However there does seem a return of some public sector business and enquiries for larger events are up on recent years, so hopefully we will see genuine growth on 2011 (but not on 2012)," he added.