The release of rooms without cancellation penalty to MATCH is a further sign that the World Cup may not be as successful in terms of international bookings as may have been hoped internationally. The article’s opening paragraph states: “FIFA has relinquished 65 022 rooms nights in the Western Cape because of lack of demandâ€¦.”
Vivienne Bervoets, Senior Accommodation Manager of MATCH, stated in the article that the reasons for the room cancellations include that the rooms booked by MATCH were not on match days, that the establishments were further than 70 km from a host city, and that the accommodation type (e.g. timeshare) proved to be unpopular with international visitors. The bulk of the room nights cancelled in the Western Cape appear to be in Cape Town. The dates already cancelled appear to be bookings MATCH made with establishments for dates before 11 June and after 11 July, signalling that pre- and post-World Cup tours are unlikely to happen. The article intimates that further accommodation cancellations may be possible, depending on the demand for tickets.
Business Day also reported on the accommodation cancellations, stating that 31 % of the bed nights booked initially, and representing 7 843 rooms, had been cancelled by MATCH. The timeshare cancellations amounted to close to 31 000 timeshare weeks. Bervoets is quoted as saying “Match has substantially curtailed its procurement drive to concentrate on sales and operations”. She stated that MATCH is still looking for “good quality hotel rooms, specifically in Gauteng, and also for contract properties if customers specifically requested this”.
It is surprising that so much of the room stock has been cancelled, given the outcry about the poor support of MATCH, and that it had to bring in cruise liners and contract properties in neighbouring countries, including Mauritius, to build up sufficient accommodation stock for the World Cup accommodation requirements.
The Cape Argus also reported on the MATCH cancellations, and quoted Dr Laurine Platsky, the Western Cape province 2010 co-ordinator, as saying that “rooms were released because of a lack of demand and fewer bookings than expected.” Rooms cancelled in the Western Cape were on the West Coast and in outlying areas, she said.
The room nights cancellations may imply that MATCH’s Matchville concept, in creating hubs or concentrations of accommodation outside host cities, in supplementing accommodation supply, may have raised the hopes of accommodation establishments which cannot be fulfilled. In Plettenberg Bay, a Matchville centre, for example, it appears that 50 % of the room nights booked by MATCH have been cancelled already.
MATCH has until 10 April to cancel further room nights without being subject to its cancellation policy, and resultant payment to accommodation establishments for accommodation cancellations. More cancellations are expected before this date.
Accommodation establishments who have had their MATCH room nights cancelled are unhappy, saying that FIFA “overhyped” its accommodation needs, reports a further article in the Cape Times.
FEDHASA CEO Brett Dungan is quoted in reports about the MATCH cancellations, in which he opportunistically offers cancelled MATCH establishments the hope that his new (personally owned) website “portal” www.rooms4u.travel, which has been set up on behalf of S A Tourism, can fill all the room nights cancelled by MATCH. This is contradictory sentiment, as Dungan has praised MATCH consistently, and protected their rip-off pricing, pointing a finger at non-MATCH contracted properties and blaming them for “rip-off” pricing!
Even Cape Town Tourism has insensitively “welcomed the release of the rooms and the opportunity now available for establishments to market their rooms during the 20 weeks leading up to the tournament. Experience has taught us that last-minute bookings for events like the World Cup are not unusual and we are expecting an increase in booking confirmations during the next few months”, according to a quote in the Cape Times.
Non-MATCH contracted guest houses are complaining that bookings are not looking as rosy as they were led to expect, and many are only about 50 % booked, even if they are charging “reasonable” prices for their accommodation.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com