Short-sighted Idiots

As FIFA announced that 2 million tickets had been sold for the 2010 World Cup in June and took a well-justified pot shot at the idiots in the German and English media and “football family” (Uli Hoeness and Phil “Sphincter Face” Brown, they mean you) who keep taking unjustified pot shots at South Africa, [a regular reader] got in touch about the Ashanti Lodge in Gardens, Cape Town.

I actually know the place quite well – friends have stayed there (before we had a house big enough to put them up) and it’s a decent backpackers lodge like you’d find in any city across the world. Not spectacular, but then you don’t want spectacular when you’re backpacking – you want clean, comfy, basic and reasonably priced accommodation.
And that’s what you’ll get – well, until World Cup time.

See – Ashanti Lodge is one of those short-sighted businesses which has spied a quick buck ahead and is desperate to make cold hard cash as soon as possible. And it’s people like them who are putting tourists and fans off from coming to the World Cup. This short-sighted, greedy, money-grabbing behaviour also helps in discouraging those who do come out for the tournament from coming back. It is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a huge own goal.

Ashanti Rates – note that special conditions apply to the World Cup bookings as well

I’m familiar with the wonderful Capitalist ideology of Supply and Demand, and I’m also aware that a lot of people want to make Cape Town their base for the World Cup. However, in my humble opinion these two facts can not justify a 309% increase in the price of a room for the duration.

Take the En-Suite (woo!) QUAD: R3,600 is $480 or £300 – that’s R900, $120 or £75 per person to sleep in a room with 3 others.
Usually in June (remember – that’s winter here!), R900 would get you a pretty decent room in a 3 or 4 star hotel. Not a shared bed at a backpackers lodge with your wife, Farty Terry from Scunthorpe and his obnoxious brother, Jim.

I’m sure there are many other establishments out there who are going to try and rip World Cup fans off as much as possible – this one was just brought to my attention. I don’t expect any of them to change their behaviour based on this post.  But there’s still value for me in pointing out their greed, their short-sightedness and their apparent lack of business acumen.

These are fine examples of local people who are going to ruin the legacy of the World Cup for South Africa.

40 thoughts on “Short-sighted Idiots

  1. Yup. Seeing as my wife is in the guest house trade I know all about this unpleasant trend – every single one of the establishments that I know of have just about tripled their rates. Stupid really. So much for going for the more sustainable “get these guys to come back to us afterwards” goal! 🙁
    .-= Craig´s last blog ..Not a Great Morning Stench =-.

  2. I saw something about all the soaring prices (and not just for accomodation) the other day. It’s amazing how moronic these people are being.

    Like you said, it’s going to discourage anyone from coming back. Well, that’s if they manage to leave after the Cup, what with being bled dry and all.
    .-= Tara´s last blog ..Cars and a Ghost King =-.

  3. Ja-nee. I do not know a single person at work, hockey club, parents at my daughter’s school or even friends who are making the trek from the UK to the world cup. Many have considered it, but its too expensive they say!

    And to all those people who are letting their own homes out to make a fast buck, I hope you dont get the dregs and hooligans renting them – you will not have a home to return to and it will land up costing you more than you made. Not everyone in this world has the same respect for your home that you do.

  4. A friend invited me to Pretoria for the last 2 weeks of the World Cup, so we can share the experience together.

    I tried booking a plane ticket, and immediately developed piles when I saw the prices. This was Mango, by the way.

    R1206 for a one-way ticket from Durban to Johannesburg. I was literally too scared to check the prices on the other “budget” flights.

    A plague, a plague upon their houses!

  5. Fookin’ hell! 😮 I always knew CT was “expensive” in the summer season, but that’s just offensive!

    It was also mentioned on the news here, last night, that not all the WC tickets have been sold yet – I’m not surprised, if the accom is costing that much!! Usually, it’s expected the tickets would cost more than the accom for this sort of thing!

  6. Craig > They’re so stupid. People simply cannot afford it. The belief that Pounds and Dollars are going to be able to afford everything is a myth. Especially at these prices.

    Tara > When restaurants start putting their prices up as well, then I’m really going to get annoyed.

    PnG >I have friends and family coming over – but I think these prices on top of the long-haul flight rates – are going to put others off.
    Also, I think that the house rental business is mainly high end and the “hooligans” – if they even exist – are not going to be able to afford that.

    Sipho > Kulula have got some great deals. Take a rubber ring to sit on for your haemorrhoidal discomfort.

    HH > Ticket sales are going well – actually slightly ahead of where Germany was in 2006. But we’re not going to benefit from it in the long term thanks to idiots like these.

  7. PS. Heard that the “lack of flights from Europe” has been blamed on lack of ticket sales as well… I think it’s more “lack of money to afford the flights” that is playing a bigger part!! We might be OFFICIALLY out of the recession, but my bank balance does NOT concur! 😀

  8. HH > It’s a good point. It’s not difficult to get here: especially if you don’t mind a stop or two.
    I have family coming over and they paid about 50% more than they usually would for flights.

  9. This is a disgrace. Thank you for highlighting the bloodsucking behaviour and the greed which will destroy SA’s hopes of a lasting legacy from the SWC 2010.

  10. I can understand that the owners want to make money – don’t we all?

    But this is a real blight on SA and the approach of many businesses to the World Cup.

    Well done for highlighting their greed.

  11. I think the average person is going to battle to afford to get here. Basically flying is the only way in, compared to Europe where you have many much cheaper options. Car, bus, train, bicycle etc.

    Add the cost of the flights, tickets, car hire (booked out already) and now soaring accomodation all together it will take this out of the price bracket of some people that might have been able to go to say Germany from England or visa versa.
    .-= Pamela´s last blog ..Full term! =-.

  12. Po > A mistake that a lot of people make. Probably after you started throwing your cash around throughout December, I might add.

    Anders > Just doing my job, citizen.

    StomachBoy > I would be very pissed off if they end up fully booked (but I’m sure they will).

    Dogma > A bit of long (or even medium)-term thinking wouldn’t go amiss.

    Pamela > As I mentioned, flights in are more expensive, donmestic flights are more expensive. Ashanti is just one example of the idiots that are going to make sure no-one wants to come back.

  13. No lack of flights from Heathrow – just booked a return trip via Vancouver via Heathrow end June with no problem at all. Raised price though!! Stupid idiots, airlines, b&b’s, hotels, whatever are going to cry later due to their greed. It’s a shame.

  14. btw – see that Ashanit last updated their website in June 2009? Maybe they have changed their minds since? 🙂

  15. Ahhhh, the wonder that is raw capitalism: charge what the market will bear and let people complain if they want to.

    The really sad thing, though, is that as far as I can see they’ll probably shift the rooms even at that price. I’m just glad I haven’t got to pay it. I knew there’d be an advantage to my son deciding he really didn’t care about going to see the Finals after all!

    And I’m wondering whether I can let my place out for 2012 – easy travelling into central London, and I reckon I could cram two couples into here. It’d be cosy but, hey, people only need to be here to sleep, right?
    .-= Ro´s last blog ..Good News, Bad News =-.

  16. Val from CT > My visitors paid about 50% more than usual for their flights to CPT.
    And if Ashanti wanted to change things – surely they would have done it by now?

    Ro > Easy travelling? With the Uxbridge line closed? Ja right.

    Delboy > Obviously, this is a bit bigger than 95 – and they probably will sell out. But that doesn’t make it any less greedy.

  17. All of these guys and the okes raping the city bowl rental market are going to slip up big time. They have now estimated that only 100,000 people have applied for tickets from foreign countries. I’d guess we had more than 100,000 poms for the Lions tour. In my very limited and humble opinion I’d put it down to stupid planning from FIFA. A mate got tickets to follow Portugal, first game in PE – 6 days later a game in Cape Town and then 4 days later the last group game in Durban.

    Logistically its a nightmare to try and get to all of those games, find accommodation and then the airlines and hotels are screwing everyone on the prices..

  18. I was going to come but even my payout from Sir Shi… er Sir Paul it won’t cover the cost of flights. I’ll rather wait until the Olympic Games come to London and bankrupt the economy, what joy! Is dancing on ice an Olympic sport now? – Heather

  19. Hi everyone – As the manager of Ashanti Lodge I do feel that a response is necessary here.
    Please may I start with correcting the sweeping statement of an increase of 306%. Maybe an idiot did the maths??
    Our peak season dorm rate is currently R140 and during the World Cup the rate is R300 – a 114% increase
    Our peak season en suite rate is R600.00 and during the World Cup the rate is R1800 – a 200% increase
    Our double,triple and quad rooms are not sold to your wife, Farty Terry from Scunthorpe and his obnoxious brother, Jim – only our dorms are shared.
    PLEASE find me a 3 or 4 star hotel in this city that will charge R900 for a room at any time of year. I called a 3 star hotel on Green Market Square and an en suite room over World Cup will put you back R3500.00 per night. (double our prices)
    I wish that some research had been done before this rant was posted. I went on to the first four local competitors that came to mind. The first three are charging R500 per dorm bed and the fourth one R1000 (but that did include breakfast) So out of the bunch we are really still going to be the most affordable backpackers lodge in June this year.
    And watch this space guys – we are soon to be SPECTACULAR with a full refurb starting in Febuary in time for June. We’ll sparkle through this.
    Please feel free to contact me for any further info 0r if you would like to book a room for family and friends who were able to book one of the enormously expensive flights.

    Kind regards,


  20. Sue, the reason you won’t find any hotels during the World Cup at those prices is because you’re all being incredibly short sighted about the whole event. Instead of citing others prices as an excuse, why not try leading the field and charging reasonable prices that will make people want to come back and visit your lodge again in the future?

    Also, as the manager of the lodge, even if the math is off, it’s not a very good PR exercise to call the person you’re responding to an idiot, especially considering his readership. If anything you should thank him, because a lot more people just learnt that Ashanti exists – I sure as hell didn’t know about it until now.

  21. Rory > The competition has to work that way, otherwise one team gets an advantage of having all it’s games “at home”. But it is more difficult when places are further apart than in – for example – Germany.

    HeatherMills > So glad the you have returned from China unscathed. Welcome back.

    Sue > Thanks for taking the time to comment. Since hits from your server were coming in from about Thursday lunchtime, it has taken a while, but nice to have your side of things all the same.
    That said, I must disagree with a few of your points.

    Highlighting that one type of room is “only” being increased by 114% fails to impress me. At all. In any way. Not even a little bit.

    And suggesting that an idiot did the maths on that 309% increase affirms my faith in the “All can succeed” SA education system, since the idiot hit the figure spot on: an increase of an incredible R2,720 on an original price of R880 is indeed an incredible increase of 309%.
    I don’t for a moment suggest that you are the only backpackers/guest house/hotel which is increasing their prices for the World Cup. Your prices were just emailed to me by an incredulous reader who was incredulous at your incredible (and not in a good way) prices.
    However, nor do I see the fact that others are being stupidly greedy as an excuse for you to do the same. What a chance to stick your head out above the crowd, retain the moral high ground and make a name for yourselves. Missed.
    You only have to look in the media – you only have to look at the comments on this post – to see the revulsion with which this exploitation of the tournament and the visitors is being viewed. You and your guest house owning colleagues are shooting yourselves and the rest of the county in the collective foot. Visitors will get the impression that SA is too expensive to visit and will not be back. Who benefits then?
    And all for the sake of a quick buck – it’s just GREED.
    Your joke about flight prices is rather foolish. The airlines are being investigated for collusion and price-fixing – maybe the accommodation sector should be too.

    I note from your rather desperate “ad” at the bottom of your comment (great place to put an ad, btw – just underneath a post exposing your money-grabbing behaviour and 21 angry comments) that you are still looking for people to book up your rooms. No surprises there.

    Tara > I don’t think the maths is off. At all.
    And a bit odd that you posted about making Ashanti a shining example just as I was thinking the same thing. Great minds… and all that.
    As for the idiot comment, what can I say? I might have suggested that their entire sector were idiots. A bit.

  22. Astonishing that sustainability is a swearword and that a reasonable discourse is not possible. Wow I used to actually quite like backpackers lodges… Oh well, guess where I will never go (I may be called an idiot and I get more than enough of that in my day job that I don’t need it on holiday too)

  23. Unfortunately most businesses run on the “as much as the market will bear” principle. If I can sell a can of Coke I paid R4 for, to you for R100, then that’s either saying something about your stupidity or, which is the case here, the scarcity of the product.

    The fundamental point you’re tying to make though, is that this kind of behaviour is short sighted or will somehow ruin the legacy or the World Cup. I disagree. As someone who’s worked on the IT side of the travel industry for almost 10 years, I can guarantee you that this sort of behaviour is global and happened just as (if not more) aggressively in Germany four years ago.

    Obviously I would love accommodation prices to stay the same regardless of the time of year… (If hotels can charge double in-season than they do out-of-season, why is x3 for the World Cup so unbelievable?)

    I would love to be able to buy a rose on valentines day for less than 5 times the florists usual price. I would love to buy a diamond for a price more accurately representative of the cost involved in producing it…

    Unfortunately (and I *hate* saying this) that’s just the way the world works… and perhaps more unfortunately, we’re a long way away from ever being able to stop it from working that way.

    You’re fighting over 10 000 years of economics.


  24. I was almost tempted to post a comment supporting Ashanti – but that utterly graceless non-response from Sue means that while I still support people’s right to charge what the market will bear (no matter how short-sighted they themselves are being in doing so), I’d now have to endorse any call to stay away from Ashanti!
    .-= Jacques´s last blog ..Cape Times and Argus – holocaust denialists? =-.

  25. Paul Scott > I guess I picked on the wrong backpackers. (Or something). I’m an idiot.

    Jonathan > Several points arise here, which I will attempt to address in no particular order.
    1. Supply & Demand works for me. But only to a point. This is actually an untested market for SA. There is no second chance here.

    2. Even with the “as much as the market will bear” principle – and I agree that this is how the market works, there is a place for sustainability here – there has to be some thought about that.

    3. Price fixing – SAA admits that the airlines are at it over the World Cup – and their co-operation with the Competition Commission means that we may know sooner rather than later. Exploitation of tourists and fans is very much in the headlines and will continue to be in the run to June.

    4. Exceptionalism. We’re led to believe that bad things only ever happen in South Africa. And this is another example. Of course, just because Germany exploited the their Worlc Cup visitors doesn’t mean SA has to as well.

    5. Germany.
    a) It was summer – therefore, you could camp (100,000’s did) and spend a tiny amount on accommodation.
    b) I’m sub-pointing now, this is scary.
    c) There were options for getting around: car, train, plane, bus. We don’t have that luxury in SA.
    d) There were also options for getting to Germany cheaply. Flight to Frankfurt expensive? Go to Belgium, Holland, France, Austria (usw.) and pop over the border.

    6. Finally – the belief that WC2010 in South Africa is going to be a failure. I’m sure it won’t be, but why supply the pessimists with more negative ammunition?

    Oh – and taking on 10,000 years of economics doesn’t scare me. You should see how I deal with 10 billion years of evolution each day.


    Jacques > Surely if you support the right to charge exorbitant rates, you support the right to say that people are short-sighted idiots for charging such rates? 😉

  26. As an accountant, I read a little more into Sue’s response. She mentions a refurb, which will make Ashanti all sparkly and shiny. Tut, tut… spending the money before you’ve got it, eh? 😀

    I can recommend a course in Customer Services too… never a good idea to call anyone an idiot – have you never heard that when people have a good experience, they tell a couple of their friends, and if they have a bad experience, they tell EVERYBODY!! 😉

  27. Sue de la Harpe; If I had to use language like that on one of my customers, worse even a potential customer, I would be without a job within a VERY short period of time. With an attitude like that, regardless of market drivers, I would be wary of what I say to people in an attempt to getting those rooms sold and coming out with a job on the other side. Have you ever heard of CUSTOMER SERVICE? I cannot believe your arrogance. Rule of thumb (and a very small tip) – up your price, up your game. Oh well, at least I have a place to lay my head in Cape Town so do not need you ……and, record of your name in case a CV comes by me soon.

  28. Jacques > Thanks. I feel better now.

    HH > You probably get better manners at all the other more expensive places she mentions.

    PnG > Hmm – it wasn’t the best place to call someone an idiot – I get around [quite a large number of] visitors a day and many of the hits I get at the moment are from people looking for accommodation for the World Cup.


  29. Just checking out ‘Ashanti Lodge’ on TripAdvisor and it scores 66%. Not too bad, but would you really want to be paying $120 per person to share with 3 other people?

    “We didn’t expect the Ritz but this lodge failed on nearly all levels of basic cleanliness.”

    “our room … smelt very musty and stale. The bunk beds in themselves were ok but the matresses were stained and smelly and so were the blankets and sheets provided. When you stamped your feet dust flew up from the carpet. Myself and some others in our group were bitten by bed bugs to which the reception staff were indifferent.”

    Even the cafe was expensive:
    “The cafe was overpriced but the food was ok.”

    Don’t get me wrong, there are some good comments too.

    I’m off to Perth at the end of the month. I will be staying in the 3.5* Comfort Hotel in peak season for $140 per room per night! That’s $70 per person and kids stay free. Plus it scores 89% on

    What’s your comment now Sue de la Harpe?
    .-= Delboy´s last blog ..January’s Project 365 =-.

  30. well the prices simply are ridiculous. I’m an ex-pat living in the states, and I just spent a long weekend in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world. I stayed in a boutique 4 star hotel for $80 a night, that’s $40 a person for downtown San Francisco., now you are telling me I have to pay more to stay in a backpackers lodge, in South Africa? crazy… – this is why everyone I know who is traveling within the country is staying with friends, so these hotels are really hurting locals

    flights from here have gone from $1250 to $4000+ on SAA – unfortunately I will not be making the world cup.

  31. Ashanti are by no means the only guesthouse trying to rip people off. It is happening in all the other venues as well. Not all but the majority are doing it.

    However this did not happen in Germany. I got flights cheaply and the 1,2 & 3 * hotels were all at the normal prices. I can’t comment on the dearer establishments.

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