The attack by SATSA Chairman Michael Tatalias on the accommodation industry for not signing with the FIFA accommodation and ticketing agency MATCH, and accusing it of “holding back” so that “they could inflate their prices to rip off tourists” (Cape Argus, 12 May, ‘City hoteliers warned against hiking prices”) is uncalled for.
SATSA is an association of tour operators, car rental companies, business tourism suppliers, etc, and has a small number of accommodation members. Accommodation is not the association’s major focus. It therefore cannot speak for the accommodation industry.
It is MATCH that has been greedy, in originally dictating to accommodation establishments that they should use the 2007 rate and add a 16 % inflation factor to this, to get to the 2010 rate. MATCH then would take a preposterous 30 % commission on this rate. However, with inflation in 2008 at around 13 %, this rate dictate was not acceptable to most establishments, and that is why the number of rooms offered to MATCH has been so low.
MATCH has been viewed critically, and its unfavourable terms as far as the small accommodation industry (i.e. guest houses, B&B’s, self-catering establishments) goes, but over the past two years MATCH has come to the party by becoming far more flexible in its pricing (accepting any fair price) and cancellation policy is concerned, mainly because they have no other choice. It is still taking a 30 % commission, now as an add-on, making accommodation appear extremely expensive, unless it is hidden in ticket/accommodation/transport packages!
The cancellation of rooms at short notice during the 2006 World Cup in Germany has been communicated to the industry, and MATCH’s dictate to supply 80 % of one’s room stock was therefore not acceptable. Even in this regard MATCH has become flexible, and they will now accept any number of rooms one will offer.
The accommodation industry believes that it is able to sell its rooms directly to soccer fans who do not wish to be ripped off by MATCH’s rates. They are not short-sighted enough nor that dishonourable to “rip-off” any 2010 World Cup tourists. Many will use the 2009/2010 summer rate for June/July 2010, instead of discounting rates to winter levels, as is usually the case.
Ultimately pricing is about supply and demand - if they cannot sell their rooms at the summer rate, accommodation establishments will have to lower them. Tourists are far too astute these days, given the credit crunch, to allow themselves to be “ripped-off”!