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America’s Cup: Hotels cooperate to prevent gouging

Bermuda Hotel Association CEO Stephen Todd

Hotels across the Island have come together as part of a coordinated effort to ensure accommodation demands for the 2017 America’s Cup are met.

With Bermuda’s good reputation at stake there is a strong focus on eliminating any possibility of price gouging or bookings scalping.

In the ten days since the Island was confirmed as hosts for the 2017 event, hotels have fielded scores of enquiries for room availability during the America’s Cup and next October’s World Series racing.

While the early enquiries are welcome, hoteliers are waiting for comprehensive guidelines on how the booking process will operate. A meeting was held last week between the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the ACBDA (America’s Cup Bermuda) group, the America’s Cup Event Authority and hotel representatives.

A source close to the discussions said work was under way to create a central booking organisation, which will contact the hotels to provide details of room requirements.

“This is just the beginning. We met to discuss room allocation for both the World Series and the main event in 2017,” said the source, who requested anonymity.

“Everyone is working well together to ensure that we can provide the type of rooms required.”

Another person familiar with the discussions, who also asked not to be named, said: “Everybody is being extremely cautious. The hotels will work with this new [booking] entity.”

As part of the event bidding process, rooms were secured for teams, sponsors and media.

Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, explained: “As the official destination marketing organisation, the BTA worked as part of the bid team to secure hotel room block commitments as part of our official bid proposal to the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). This is quite standard practice with any bid proposal to host major global events.

“As part of that process, we also secured non-gouging agreements from our hotel partners, which ensures that we will provide fair and reasonable rates (that are in line with standard seasonal rates) during the events for organisers, teams, sponsors, media and the public at large.

She added: “The rooms currently reserved are for use of the ACEA and teams, sponsors and media. The BTA will continue to work with the ACEA in the weeks and months to come to fulfil these requirements. The BTA is also working in concert with the ACEA as it relates to additional cruise ship inventory that may be required to accommodate visitors around the events.”

Stephen Todd, CEO of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said: “We are waiting for additional guidelines from the ACBDA to comply with the America’s Cup organising committee.

“The guidelines will be provided to ensure there is no opportunity for gouging in terms of prices, or scalping.

“The meeting gave the hotels some preliminary information.

“Bermuda has a very good reputation in the marketplace as a place to do business,” and he said it was important to preserve that.

Mr Todd praised the collaborative approach being taken by the organisations and the hotels.

“I think it is important that we are seen to be operating as an association, as one group, to provide benefit to the wider community. We recognise we have a part to play and we are working in tandem with the Bermuda Tourism Authority.”

The Fairmont Hamilton Princess is among the hotels to have received enquiries for America’s Cup-related bookings. Allan Federer, general manager, said: “We are not confirming rooms at the moment. There have been many, many dozens of enquiries from the US and from Europe.”

He was not surprised enquiries were being made so far in advance. Mr Federer added: “We are excepting enquiries, but not bookings until the requirements of the race teams, the sponsors and the attendees become clearer.”

Rehanna Palumbo, director of sales and marketing at Elbow Beach Resort, said: “Once we knew the America’s Cup was coming to Bermuda, we allocated space for the two main events in October 2015 and June 2017.

“We are continuing to take bookings for individuals and groups on other dates.”