Price Gouging And Cleaning Up, The Rugby World Cup – Updated

From price gouging in hotels to removing beggars from the streets and turfing people out of hostels and renting out their rooms – everyone is gearing up get a nice fat slice of the RWC 2011 cake.

The stories have been around for a while now but they’re starting to pick up a bit: Various accusations of price gouging, dark warnings and strenuous denials from the hospitality industry.

“New Zealand risked tarnishing its reputation as a fair nation through greedy accommodation operators cashing in on Rugby World Cup hosting rights, Jasons Travel Media chief executive Matthew Mayne said.”

Over the coming months we’ll be be looking at examples where punters seem to be being asked to pay over the odds for accommodation, or travel,  during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Keep checking page at the page as we update it,

Price gouging or an example of Capitalism in action?:

  • A one bedroom apartment on Auckland’s Princes Wharf, presently being advertised on Trademe for $1,500 a week, available from 1 Sept 2011, minimum tenancy period 4 weeks LINK
  • And here’s the LINK for a Google cache of the same property, same listing number, advertised as being available from 1 March 2010 for…wait for it…$355 a week. Minimum tenancy period not stated. (note: google cache has updated since this post was made on 24 March)

We note there are no takers, yet.

Price Gouging an Own Goal

We Love Rugby issued a press release slamming price gouging in New Zealand, saying that attendances could suffer as a result:

“Attendances at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand could be the lowest ever for international fans with Australia’s largest rugby tour operator; We Love Rugby today refuting claims from the Hospitality Association of New Zealand’s Bruce Robertson that fears surrounding hotel rates during the 2011 Rugby World Cup were an “Australian beat up…

We have all seen what has happened at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa where tourists are staying away in droves against a backlash of high hotel and transport prices. We saw it at the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies as well. If New Zealand think they are immune to the same thing happening then they need a reality check.” Livingstone said.

“The $1,700 per room per night with a minimum 10 night stay at the Hilton Auckland example is not isolated. We have a list of hotels that have all increased their rates by 400% and some by up to 1,000% from their normal rates.”

“If you look at the rate for the Hilton Auckland of NZD$1,700 compared to the rate that we were charged at last year’s Bledisloe Cup NZD$440 which is a peak travel date, then you must appreciate that rugby fans are starting to seriously consider their options.”

“It’s not isolated – the Hyatt Regency is charging $763 per room per night and we paid $190 per room per night at last year’s Bledisloe Cup peak period. Sky City Grand are charging $1050 per room per night when we paid $309 when we used the hotel during the 2008 Bledisloe Cup and the list goes on.”

“It’s not just the Auckland hotels, the Grand Chancellor hotel in Wellington are selling rooms for $859 during the period when Australia play rugby minnows USA. We paid $399 per room per night six months ago during the Bledisloe Cup. The Sofitel in Queenstown is selling rooms for $940 during the semi-final and Final period which is held on the other side of the country in Auckland

“We are not beating this up. The NZ press came to us asking about it, we simply answered their questions…”

Tickets to the final range from $390 to $1250, well out of the range of most New Zealanders who are likely to stay at home and watch the match on TV. The Herald is canvasing it’s readership to find out if the high  prices will put them off going. Read the responses here, this one from Mat probably sums it up:

“I wasn’t intending to see it anyway, but I do take issue with NZers having to basically enter a lottery in order for them to go in the draw to pay $1000 for one of less than half of the tickets (more than half appear to be given to IRB for foreigners) when the taxpayer (that’s us) is going to be paying $39 million dollars for the event. Stuff that.

You want taxpayer support you better darn well give special treatment for kiwis and stuff the “harm”  it’ll do to the internationals. Then to top it off, the IRB is charging TVNZ, MediaWorks, and Maori TV for the “right” to broadcast it. If we’re covering the losses, there’s no way we should be paying for the broadcast.

If they aren’t going to do anything for kiwis, they can blasted well pay for it yourself and leave my money out of it. Disgusting.”

Cleaning Up the Beggars

The pressure is already on towns to brighten up their image before the matches start next year. The spotlight has been turned on beggars in Palmerston North, a town where two games are to be held:

“Begging on Palmerston North streets has caught the attention of city authorities who believe it is a bad look in the build-up to next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Vagrancy and begging have happened in the city for a number of years, but a recent rise has seen beggars operating in places such as The Square and Broadway Ave.
Though they had not acted aggressively, the city council’s head of environmental services Wayne Jameson said their undesirable behaviour often made people uncomfortable.
Aside from asking for money and cigarettes, some had been seen urinating on building walls, he said.
The issue was raised during a meeting on Wednesday where plans for Palmerston North’s two World Cup games were discussed, he said.
“We are aware that there are three [people] that have been seen in the street putting their hands out.
“It’s not the best image for the city and we are not sure if there will be more to come…”

Beggars in Palmerston North, who’d have thought. Will they be rounded up and transported away during the competition, or will something a lot more positive and socially responsible be done to assist them?

Beer to be sold in cans despite opposition from police.

Be sure to pack a hard hat and body armour if you’re attending any matches in New Zealand. If you’re playing on the pitch you’d better learn to duck:

Police pushed for beer to be served in plastic cups to minimise the risk of them being used as missiles by intoxicated fans, but it is understood there was also opposition to that from principal sponsor, Heineken…

“arranging tap beer facilities would have been costly for 9 of the 13 stadia which didn’t already have such facilities.” source

Score so far: Sponsors 1, Police 0.

Update 5 May 2010 – Most expensive breakfast in NZ?

The NZ Herald broke the news that the Eden Park B&B has quoted a guest $1,600 a night during the tournament. Must be a great breakfast spread they put on there:

“Jacqui Marsden was horrified to discover she had been quoted NZ$1600 for a one-night stay in a Mt Eden bed and breakfast during next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The Yorkshire woman said she was shocked at the quote, which she was given following an email enquiry to Eden Park Bed and Breakfast last month.”

Update 28 June 2010 – Vulnerable people to be made homeless

The government has voted down an amendment that would protect tenants from being evicted from their homes so that landlords could rent them out for major sporting events.

“Earlier this year, boarding house tenants were evicted en masse so that their rooms could be used during the Wellington Sevens. This put enormous pressure on social services and emergency accommodation providers which struggled to cope with the displaced and vulnerable people.

“There are already concerns in Auckland that the same thing is going to happen next year during the Rugby World Cup, especially with hotels charging such high prices. I spoke to the Minister months ago and alerted him to the issue. He chose to do nothing about it himself, and then voted against Labour’s attempt to rectify the problem…” source

Update April 2011

A lodge hotel in Auckland a few minutes walk from Eden Park has increased its prices 1000% for the RWC period, according to a report in The NZ Herald

2 thoughts on “Price Gouging And Cleaning Up, The Rugby World Cup – Updated

  1. Thanks Donna, we saw your article on Voxy.

    It’s a pity that the people and small businesses of NZ don’t get to support the event in their own unique way. The smaller ventures could make the sporting event a truly unique Kiwi experience and not charge the earth for it.

    Stopping kids from holding colouring-in competitions is incredible, where’s the spirit of the game in that? Some kids ‘live and breathe’ rugby.

    Here’s the link to Donna’s article if anyone wants to look at it

  2. Soon, a South Pacific country will be hosting a major world sports game….
    If all this sounds rather vague, I’m sorry! but I am NOT allowed to mention even a snip of information, because the rights to do so are that heavily protected!

    …I’d like to be more specific and be able to tell you what this is …tell you the name of the sport and game, …tell you the year connected to [this sporting event], …and tell you where the games are going to be played. I’d like to be able to direct you to the ‘Official’ website of [this sporting event], (but again, sorry, that too is also a definite no-no!!)

    I CAN offer you information about surrounding regions, (where to stay & what to do, since [this sporting event] will be attracting many overseas visitors who are already wanting information about the host country), but I can NOT tell you anything about my product in relation to [this sporting event], not even if I place a disclaimer in my reference which says; “I am not officially connected to [this sporting event]”!!

    In fact, no institution, or business, unless “authorised” …(but here, one cannot ‘gain’ authorisation!), have the rights to be making any connection to [this event], AT ALL.

    Each and every citizen needs to be aware of this Rights Protection Law surrounding [this major sporting event].

    This Law even goes as far as prohibiting a school from holding a colouring-in competition that refers to [this sporting event], or the players, or the teams involved.

    It is understandable to have strict laws to protect Official Sponsors of [this event] from ‘unauthorised competition’ since these Sponsors have poured mega-bucks into advertising etc., however, many other businesses are already advertising [this event] on a large scale. Some have been doing so since September last year, displaying countdown-clocks, advertising ‘packages’, forming ‘Associations’, and ‘Stables of Activities’ connected to [this sporting event]. Is this Law being upheld?, Is this Law being adequately policed by the ‘official’ Rights Protection Organisation handling the law to [this sporting event]?

    Given that this Rights Protection Law states; “$150,000 fine and 5 years jail if found in-breach of ANY unauthorised referencing”, how does this now make you feel?

    As citizens and small businesses of the host country, who wish to get behind [this sporting event], and promote it in a positive way, is the extreme measure of this Protection Law entirely fair?

    And, more to the point, did YOU KNOW about this Law?

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