London & Partners hails Cisco win and discusses hotel overcharging fears

London & Partners was this morning (28 Feb) grilled by the Assembly's Budget and Performance Committee on the rising price of hotels and its slip in the world rankings.

London & Partners says hotel overcharging is a key issue
London & Partners says hotel overcharging is a key issue
The London promotional agency's chief executive officer Gordon Innes was questioned on how the organisation's use of budget compared to its New York counterpart, NYC & Co.

"Our budget is handled very differently [to NYC & Co]. It's impossible to compare because NYC, for example, owns lot of advertising space. We don't get that sort of revenue," he said.

Ranking slip defended

Innes defended the city's slip down the leisure and tourism league table behind Hong Kong and Singapore last year.

He said the fall was due to a change in the way Euromonitor conducts the research - the criteria for which was the subject of controversy with panel members, who questioned the methods through which Hong Kong's data was reached.

Innes said that, on the contrary, 2011 looks set to be a record year for London's tourism. "The forecast was about 27m visitors, which is about a 9% increase," he said.

Hotel price rise

Innes agreed with the panel that greater efforts need to be made to ensure hotels don't hike their prices.

"We worked with the mayor to create a London visitor charter agreement not to hike prices by more than 10%. Around 60 businesses, including hotel chains, signed up but we are still pushing this," he said.

"Hotels will be boosted hugely off the back of Olympics and there has been huge investment in terms of rennovation of hotels, but we need to ensure pricing remains fair. Hotels in London are lower than Paris but not the cheapest," he added.

Cisco and business tourism

He also said that the capital's Cisco Live win (by agency George P Johnson) over Barcelona was a major boon and demonstrated how corporates can gain a bigger audience in London.

He added: "We are keen to make the city accessible for business tourists looking at value. Cisco significantly increased visitors as result of being in London. We are also using social media campaign to help extol the virtues of London."

Meanwhile, the importance of China as a market was stressed by Innes. "Educating the BRIC travel trade on what London has to offer and driving additional traffic in is crucial," he said.

Pre-Games opportunity

Despite the lure of the Games, Innes said efforts to attract corporates to the city before the Olympics has been a success.

"We acted to quash fears that the city would be a building site before the Games and provide compelling reasons to visit before the event. Lead indicators suggest [the takeup] has been very positive from business visitors," he added.

Future aims

Innes told the panel that London & Partners is aiming to attract more contestable business and measure the reasons why companies are, and aren't, coming to the capital using independent research.

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