Ashanti in World Cup u-turn

It seems that Ashanti Lodge, whose exorbitant 309% World Cup price increase we noted in January and who still hadn’t sold their rooms for the tournament just a couple of weeks ago, have had to rethink their pricing strategy for June and July.
Their rates page now has a little note for the dates over the duration of the World Cup:

Price on application as match days have different rates to non-match days.

The cynic in me wants to suggest that this is just another ploy to rip off fans traveling over to SA for the football.
And he’s probably right.

What Ashanti don’t seem to have realised is that fans attending the games at the Cape Town Stadium will still have the opportunity to fly out after the matches, as the airports will be running for pretty much 24 hours a day during the World Cup. And with greater numbers of cheaper flights being announced all the time, it will surely be more tempting to head “back home” to wherever you’re based, that to pay rip-off prices in Cape Town.

All of which augers well for businesses in the Mother City.


Kortbroek goes probing

News in this morning’s Cape Times that Marthinus Christoffel Johannes van Kortbroek, South African Minister for Tourism has demanded a probe into allegations that some accommodation providers are hiking prices excessively for the World Cup.

“We have noted allegations that accommodation establishments in the tourism industry are not responsible, and are inflating prices excessively,” van Schalkwyk said.

Well done, Marthinus. The rest of us only noticed that fact a few months back. It’s good to see that you and your department have got your collective fingers so firmly on the pulse of what is going to be the biggest tourist event this country has ever seen.
My faith in the Government is restored. Unfortunately.

He said the survey would help safeguard the reputation of the tourism industry since South Africa is known as a “value-for-money destination”.
“Price-hiking could damage the reputation of our tourism industry. However, it must be kept in mind that June and July will be high season in South Africa, and tourists should not expect the normal low-season prices,” he said.

Absolutely correct, Minister. However, nor should tourists expect to pay mark-ups of over 300% as we recently noted at the Ashanti Backpackers Lodge in Gardens.

Grant Thornton has been commissioned to conduct the survey, which is expected to be completed in three weeks.

…leaving the Government with very limited time to do absolutely nothing about it. Meh.

This article prompted me to give Ashanti a call, just to see if they have any rooms left for the World Cup. I didn’t even have to fake a British accent, since I still have half of one of those.
“Plenty,” was the reply.

Goodness me. I wonder why?

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.