Some hotels are holding back in signing up with a company handling bookings for 2010 World Cup visitors, according to the special advisory board for the soccer spectacle.

Chairperson Otto Stehlik says a few hotel groups are making excessive demands on booking agent Match Hospitality, the exclusive holder of hospitality rights.

While most hotels were indeed signing up, the target of about 60 000 available rooms might not be reached, said Stehlik, who is also chairperson of Protea Hotels.

Before it would sign a contract, one hotel wanted a guarantee that it would receive R18-million for food and beverages bought from the hotel for the duration of the matches.

Others believed that once all the match accommodation was booked, they would be able to charge what they liked. The board hoped to hear that it had secured at least 40 000 rooms at a meeting next month.

If not, they might have to solicit the government’s help, Stehlik said.

Stopping short of suggesting a boycott, he said there could be repercussions because government departments were major hotel clients and they could take their business to other hotels.

However, he said that reminding the hospitality industry about the need for accommodation might be all that was necessary.

According to a sample contract viewed on the Internet, the contract stipulates that a room has to be available to Match, who have the exclusive rights to sell it as part of a package that could include air tickets as well as match tickets and transport to the stadiums.

The hotelier submits his room charges and also has to have a grading, and is then part of the pool of rooms that Match uses for its packages.

Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa chief executive officer Brett Dungan said this system helped to protect visitors from being charged exorbitant rates, while for the hotelier, it provided a minimum three-stay booking.

He said that although businesses not contracted could make some money for a night or two, they would probably not benefit from the whole event and would also have to provide logistics, such as taking people to stadiums and back.

Dungan added it was irresponsible of hotel owners not to enable the organisers to secure the event and he believed the industry owed it to the government, which had been supportive, to make the event work. –

DATED: 2nd October 2008