Buy Now or Wait for Olympic Bargains?

According to a recent report from Europe, advance booking demand for hotels during the London Olympic Games is down by 80 percent, but hotels are still keeping rooms off the market. That report raises the classic dilemma of would-be Olympic Games visitors next summer, July 27-August 12, and it leaves at least one reader in a quandary:

"If I want to take in the Games, should I buy now or wait for a bargain price?"

Sadly, that's a problem I can highlight but not yet solve.

Tickets

As my colleague Christine Sarkis recently blogged, the ticket sale process has started through CoSport, the official reseller for Games tickets to residents of the U.S., Canada, Australia, and a bunch of European countries. The "ticket request phase" runs through April 22, and "hospitality package sales" started on March 15. So far, CoSport isn't showing any prices, but it is accepting registrations and requests.

The official London-based Olympic ticket website specifically states that it will not sell to foreign visitors. However, if you have some friends in the UK, you might have them inquire about buying tickets for you there.

In some prior Olympic Games, host country and regional demand for tickets has fallen far short of expectations and national allocations. In those cases, local authorized sellers have released ticket inventory to foreign agencies and tour operators – basically, to any outfit willing to buy them. In other years, Games admission has become the "hottest ticket in town." Whether UK demand will exceed or fail to meet expectations is anyone's guess. In any case, various U.S. ticket resellers, such as TicketCity are also taking requests for tickets, which may come either through CoSports or from initial allocations that originally went to other countries.

As always, as opening day approaches, you'll see a secondary market in event tickets: Will they go at scalper prices or distressed levels? That's the big question, with no answer yet in sight.

Packages

Tour operators of all stripes are organizing Olympic packages, some through CoSports, some through sports tour specialists, some through mainline tour operators. So far, the only hard prices I've seen were from Roadtrips, which lists a four-night package starting at a mind-boggling $3,695 per person, excluding airfare and event tickets. I suspect that, at least early on, other package prices will also be very high.

Hotel Accommodations

As noted, London and nearby hotels are holding most of their room inventory out for Olympic packagers and direct sales. So far, none of the big hotel chain or online agency sites is even quoting prices more than a year in advance, so I can't give any examples. But you'll be able to check prices starting this July.

Typically, host countries always anticipate a great shortage of accommodations during the Games, and they try to line up accommodations in student dormitories, private houses, and other places that don't usually cater to short-term visitors. London is doing this, as well, and you can look for special websites set up for accommodations searches.

Airfares

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