The Australian Daily Telegraph (see below) is reporting that many sporting tour groups from Britain and Australia are thinking about basing themselves in Sydney for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The decision to stay in Sydney has been brought about by reports of NZ accommodation providers’ extortionate price gouging. See our article “Price Gouging and Cleaning Up, the Rugby World Cup” for background.
Rugby World Cup accommodation prices in NZ are so steep that the country’s NZ Rugby World Cup Minister has actually been asked to tell hotels to tone it down, some of them have tariffs 700-1,000% more than the usual rates for the fortnight of the tournament.
A 10 night minimum booking at the Auckland Hilton will put the average punter back a whopping $17,000, for a room “the size of a prison cell.” (well, NZ prisons are said to be like luxury hotels) $17 grand! that’s enough to buy a VW combo (that can be sold off later) and still have change for business class air fares and a night out at the pub.
We don’t blame the supporters for wanting to stay in Sydney – the climate is better, there’s far wider range of good quality accommodation and entertainment options and they’re less likely to get ripped off for it all. Even with flights over to NZ to pay for it will work out a whole lot cheaper, and probably more pleasant, than staying in NZ.
Our regular readers will remember last September’s Springbok Tour who opted to stay in Brisbane, Australia and enjoy the amenities of the Gold Coast, rather than stay over in “boring Hamilton”. Coach Peter de Villiers was concerned his players would suffer from apathy as “there is nothing in Hamilton”. The town’s Mayor, obviously offended, retorted with “To be honest, if the Springboks were in the streets of Hamilton they probably wouldn’t feel that welcome anyway.”
The following day the Hamilton PR effort bounced back and Waikato Rugby Union chief executive Graham Bowen tried to promote attractions such as the Waitomo caves (much loved by David Attenborough) Raglan’s surf breaks and Rotorua, about an hour and a half away.
Anyway, back to what the Australian Telegraph had to say
“Kiwi Cup Rip-Off
NEW Zealand’s Rugby World Cup minister has asked hotels to tone down the price gouging after tournament organisers continue to be embarrassed by accommodation rorts and mark-ups.
Sporting tour groups from Britain and Australia are considering basing themselves in Sydney for the 2011 World Cup given the exorbitant prices being charged for rooms in New Zealand during the tournament, particularly the finals in Auckland.
With a shortage of hotels, many have upped their rates by 700-1000 per cent for the finals fortnight and set down a minimum stay of a week or longer.
A room in the Auckland Hilton – normally $344 a night – is going for $1700 per night at a minimum 10-night booking, totalling a whopping $17,000.
And that’s for what a front-page report in the New Zealand Herald last week described as a room the “size of a prison cell”. Numerous other examples of hotel price gouging abound, but it’s emerged bed & breakfasts and private house owners are now also getting in on the act.
A B&B near Eden Park, where the finals will be played, was in the news for asking $1600 per night during the finals. Private homes in Auckland are being advertised for as much as $7000 a week.
NZ’s World Cup minister, Murray McCully, last week wrote to New Zealand’s Hotel Association, asking its members to find balance between charging a reasonable premium during the tournament but not trashing the country’s tourism reputation.
“It is not acceptable for anyone to rort the system – and I’m simply asking people to understand the difference between charging a premium and doing something that is extortionist and harmful to New Zealand’s reputation from a tourism point of view,” McCully wrote.
The minister said he was confident most hotels would abide but “one or two need to be persuaded“.
That sounds rather ominous, will he be sending the boys in black round?
“It’s not just Auckland hotels marking up their prices. Rooms as far as away as Queenstown – normally $255 a night – are being offered for $940 a night.
A room in the modest Ibis hotel in Hamilton, a 90-minute drive from Auckland, can be booked for as little for $77 per night, but during the World Cup finals it will cost $770.
Some angry Auckland hoteliers are refusing to join in the gouging.
The owners of the Kiwi international hotel in Auckland will charge no more $200 a night for their rooms, up from a regular rate of $89 but well short of the drastic mark-ups elsewhere.
“It’s just ridiculous,” the hotel’s owner told the New Zealand Herald. “I think it’s criminal and not only that, how does it make New Zealanders look?”
Price gouging, or just capitalism in action? Fortunately Rugby fans are canny consumers and will be looking for the best-value all-round deals they can find. If they find them across the Tasman from New Zealand, Kiwis will only have themselves to blame – it’s a free world.
Many New Zealanders have already said that they will only attend a match if it’s local to them – only 12% of Kiwis said they intend going to a game and of those only 5% are intending to travel to it. Most of them to the 4 major towns/cities of Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Christchurch. They’re canny consumers too and simply don’t have the spare cash to get ripped off by their fellow countrymen.
Back in March Australia’s 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 this price gouging farce continues the 2011 Rugby World Cup is going to be nothing more than a damp squib, which will be a travesty – for the game, for the people who want to support it and for the many small businesses hoping to make a honest dollar from the event.
Read what Kiwis are saying about the great RWC rip off HERE – they’re comments left on the NZ Herald’s website.
For all our 2011 Rugby World Cup related articles click HERE