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Westport hoteliers refute ‘absurd’ price claims

Westport hoteliers refute ‘absurd’ price claims

Hotels.com survey ‘not credible’

Neill O’Neill


CLAIMS that Westport has the most expensive hotel rooms in Ireland have been dismissed and branded ‘ridiculous’ by Destination Westport - a group comprising of hoteliers and other business operators in the town which works to promote Westport and its tourism services.
There was much adverse national publicity last week when the on-line booking engine Hotels.com published a new survey which placed Westport on top of a list of the towns with the most expensive hotel rooms in Ireland. However, the report also contains some very surprising findings, which a PR representative of Hotels.com could not address when contacted last week by The Mayo News.
Chief among these is a claim by Hotels.com that Castlebar was the ninth most popular destination in Ireland for Irish tourists in 2011. Strangely, Westport does not feature on this top ten destinations list at all.
In the same survey, the global hotel booking website claimed that Westport was the dearest town in Ireland to book a hotel room in, followed by Kilkenny and Wexford. The report states that the average price for a hotel room in Westport last year was €111. However, the dearest room available on Hotels.com for tonight (Tuesday March 20) when Westport is searched is actually in Ashford Castle, followed by Mount Falcon Country House Hotel in Ballina. In the same search The Delphi Mountain Resort, The McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris and the Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel in Recess also feature on the higher end of the scale. None of these hotels are located close enough to Westport to be considered in the town, despite them featuring on Hotels.com when Westport is searched.
In fact, of the 19 venues listed by Hotels.com as being available in Westport this evening, only six of them are actually in the town, and of these, one is a guesthouse. The dearest accommodation in Westport tonight (Tuesday) on Hotels.com is €90, while the average price for accommodation that is actually in the Westport area tonight is €76. When you factor in all the venues listed on Hotels.com as being in Westport and available tonight, the average price rises to €90 - driven up by room prices from Connemara to Kiltimagh. This is flawed according to hoteliers in Westport, quite simply because these hotel rooms are not in the town.
The report describes Westport as a ‘popular County Mayo tourist town’ and states that there was a seven per cent rise in hotel room prices in 2011 - “partly fuelled by a string of events such as the Westport Arts and Westport music festivals.” Despite this, the town is not in the top ten most popular destinations for Irish tourists according to the same report, with Castlebar the only Mayo location to make this list - in ninth place.
According to Westport hotelier Darren Madden, Chairman of Destination Westport, there are 751 hotel beds in Westport, and only three per cent of these are available on Hotels.com, which means that the information as published by Hotels.com is based on a them selling a very small proportion of the hotel stock in Westport. Mr Madden says that the survey is flawed and not credible as it does not give a fair or accurate representation of the hotel industry in the town. He added that the way these findings were arrived at is a mystery.
“This is a huge PR exercise for Hotels.com, and they are a large and very powerful company. The figure of €111 is absolutely absurd, no hotel in the town is achieving that as an ongoing average,” he said. “Only a few hotels in Westport are available on Hotels.com, and this survey does not represent all hotels. Hotels.com might be selling rooms on peak weekends, but not during the week, and this survey is very slanted in one direction. The findings are a distortion of the truth of what is available from hotels in Westport, and it could be damaging to the town.”
Destination Westport also stated that people will get far better value and deals by contacting hotels directly or visiting their websites, as you can only buy accommodation on Hotels.com. Darren Madden suggested that Westport not being on the list of popular Irish destinations is because hotels in the town are not giving many beds to Hotels.com to sell for them.
“They take large commission on all transactions and it comes off the hoteliers’ bottom line. Business is tough out there but a lot of good work has been undertaken in Westport to bring in tourists. Tourism is a huge employer in Westport and and the town has unique appeal and something to offer to most visitors, but none of this is factored into the report published last week. The report is not credible and what it states does not add up. Too many important variables are not being considered by Hotels.com.”
According to Hotels.com Ireland has experienced the largest slump in hotel room prices in Europe over the last three years - down 35 per cent - but while average hotel prices are up this year (€82), they are still a long way off the averages paid in other countries - €116 in the USA and €115 in the UK.

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