Whenever major events come to town, local businesses hike their prices. It’s just how things are done. When reports of skyrocketing hotel accommodations and house and apartment rates hit the papers, some Londoners were moved to take action. Not wanting the world to think they were all interested in fleecing the Olympic tourists coming to their city, dozens of them offered up their homes, spare bedrooms and even sofas to strangers – absolutely free.
Back in February, reports of landlords evicting tenants so they could raise rates for Olympics visitors made the news and some Londoners were outraged. Not wanting the world to think all Brits were like that, people like Liz Gill felt it was her duty to show another side of the people of London.
Gill has opened her home to Graham and Delwyn Cure, from Tasmania, Australia. The couple’s 19 year old daughter will be competing in the women’s track team cycling event to represent her country. Gill realized that when a person visits a new country for the first time, they take with them a sense of who those people are based on their experiences there. She didn’t want the outlandish hotel prices to be the only thing her city was remembered for. She admits she also enjoys having visitors.
As an example of what tourists are facing, hotel prices at a local Best Western hotel are typically $435 for a Saturday night. As far back as February, the time frame when the tickets for the men’s 10,000 meters final first went on sale, prices for the hotel on the night of the race were $733.
Gill felt that offering her home to visitors was in keeping with the spirit of the Olympic Games. She found More Than Gold, a charitable organization created to help the churches in Atlanta during the 1996 Games.
The Cures had only known for a few weeks that their daughter, Amy, was going to compete. By the time they learned of it, prices everywhere were already ridiculously high. Not wanting to miss their daughter’s first Olympic competition, they were scrambling. According to cure, they’d already spent AUS$3,000 ($3,150) on airline tickets for each of them. Needing accommodations for just a week, they looked at renting a house but found the AUS$4,500 ($4,750) rate per week prohibitive. Besides, most landlords wanted a three week commitment and the Cures couldn’t handle that expense.
Hoping that things would work themselves out, Cure was delighted when someone at Cycling Australia told him about homestay schemes. Shortly after that, he was in touch with Gill. Families of athletes usually receive free tickets to events but seldom score accommodations so Gill’s offer was most appreciated.
Gill and others really demonstrate what putting one’s best foot forward is all about.