I’ve just been to Hannover to attend an exhibition of vans and commercial vehicles (actually, I rather enjoyed it). I ended up paying €250 to stay in a frightful, pastel-coloured “business hotel” (shorthand for, “No one else wants to stay there”). It was literally the last room in the city and the manager cheerfully admitted to me that, outside from exhibitions, he charged €75. That’s a more than 300 per cent mark up. I now never, ever want to go to Hannover again.
It seems that Hannover – like Milan, Dusseldorf and Copenhagen, and quite a few others we could mention (I’m looking at you, Birmingham) – is one of those cities which boasts a massive, world-class exhibition centre, but which has neglected to provide anywhere for visitors to actually stay. Hannover Messe opened in 1947, so you’d think they’d have had time to sort this out.
Copenhagen is at least trying. The Danish capital has been notorious for its lacklustre, costly accommodation in the past, but in the last five to 10 years the city has seen a hotel building bonanza: 1,600 new rooms were added last year alone, many of them in a new Cab Inn designed by Daniel Liebeskind. The expansion will be capped in 2011 with the opening of Bella Sky, which will primarily service the Bella Center, Scandinavia’s largest conference and exhibition hangar. The 1.6bn kroner (€215m) Bella Sky, with its two, lacy-façaded, leaning towers by Copenhagen’s 3XN, will be the largest hotel in Scandinavia, with 814 rooms.
So will this bring an end to grasping profiteering? “That kind of dynamic pricing is really bad for Copenhagen and we are trying to stop it,” says Eva Lund, director of business development at Bella Sky. “Of course, if you compare the cheapest rate, on say Christmas Day when no one is here to our highest rate, there will be a big difference, but we are very conscious about the long-term image of Copenhagen as a conference and exhibition city.
“In the past the city has had a bad reputation for this but we are going to be holding an event soon to which all the hoteliers are invited where we will try to impress upon them the impact of raising rates too much during events, the small hotels in particular. We want to be the role model for them.”
Perhaps a few hoteliers from Hannover could pop along too.