Visa Announces VIP Lounge for London 2012 Olympic Games

Visa, a US-based credit card company, is offering exclusive its VIP Lounge for Visa Chase Card members during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The company is offering the VIP Lounge as a complimentary retreat to its card members in the centre of the London city for attending the 2012 Games, and is available from July 26, to August 12th, 2012. The venue is situated in West End, at 116 Pall Mall, close to the Piccadilly Tube Station and main hotels.

The VIP Lounge also comes with a series of meet-and-greet events for Visa Chase Card members who attend the event with Olympic athletes. Olympic athletes and medal winners will be signing autographs, interacting with visitors, and posing for photographs for card members.

Special Features of the VIP Lounge includes meals; Olympic Athlete meet-and-greet events; continental breakfast, lunch, tea, snacks, and beverages daily; around 15 HDTVs; Wi-Fi and computer access; and concierge services. The VIP Lounge is also offering a commemorative gift for first time visitors.

Celebrity Chef Morimoto will be offering his creations at a pop-up restaurant at the venue throughout the Olympic Games.

To avail a schedule of special events and make a reservation for these experiences, card members need to access the Visa VIP Lounge website.

Visa offers digital and card payment solutions and services to banking institutions in around 200 countries and territories across the globe.

Stay In London Free during 2012 Olympics by House-Sitting

So you thought that finding an accommodation in London during 2012 Olympics Games on a budget is impossible? Think about ‘House-Sitting’.

Typically, a house sitter takes care of the house when the owners leave for a vacation, in exchange for staying at the property. The house sitters take care of plants, the pets, the regular chores, and they are often professionals active or retired from services, looking for a place to stay for free or even retreat to for a break.

With an astounding number of British population planning a vacation around the times of 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics Games, there has been an increase in demand for house sitters in London during the same period.

Lisa Logan, the spokeswoman for Trusted Housesitters, a UK-based house sitting company, said to The Guardian, ‘I think people were waiting to see if they got Olympic tickets and those that haven’t have decided to go away. In the past week 10 new London properties have been added.’

The company has reported having around 584 homes listed for house sitting requirements, with 30 of them located within the M25, and another 40 properties located within 40 minutes of travelling distance from London. The properties include a Georgian terrace house in Kensington, and an Edwardian house with a garden in Richmond. Most of the properties listed for house sitting come with residential pets that need to be looked after during the time owners go for the vacation.

So for people with a ticket to the games, and without accommodation so far, and those who love pets and gardening, house sitting may be a way to stay for free in a city which is expected to see thousands of visitors once the 2012 Games begin.

Hotel Prices Fall for London 2012 Olympics As Visitors Avoid London

Hotel prices for rooms in London for the period of the 2012 Olympic games are registering a slow fall, following a recent high peak.

Recent research by Hotels.com, an online travel company, suggested that average room rates have fallen by 5 percent in London, while on-line hotel searches have increased by around 50 percent for the 2012 Olympic period, as an expected rise in bookings is still yet to happen.

Alison Couper, the company global expert in online travel, said, ‘On top of that, searches for London on our Hotels.com UK site for the Olympic period for the last three months are currently running nearly 50 percent higher than last year. No doubt the inspiration created around the country by the torch relay has helped to stimulate this increased interest but the mood in the capital at the moment is exhilarating.

The average price in London currently stands at £202 but this masks that fact that there are rooms available in the city for much less than this, such as £50 a night in some instances, depending on the date of stay.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of this celebrated showcase of talent and there are some great deals and good availability to be had, particularly in west London. But falling prices and rising interest mean that the best rooms will be selling fast so don’t run the risk of waiting for bargain rates or you could miss out altogether.’

Rooms for the Olympics period, which were previously being offered at an average £210 per night, are currently being offered for £160 per night, according to the survey.

Millions of Brits Planning Holidays Abroad during London Olympics

British travellers are all set to holiday abroad this summer, as incessant rain at home and the a weak euro further encourage them to take a leisure trip to a sunny overseas destination during the 2012 Olympics Games.

A recent research survey by tour companies and travel agents has highlighted the fact that millions of British people are set to take a vacation abroad, in spite of the government encouraging them to stay in the UK and support team GB during the games.

Lastminute.com, an online travel agent in the UK, has reported a 207 percent increase in bookings for holidays overseas in July and August of 2012, compared to the same period last year.

While VisitEngland, the official tourism site for England, said trends for ‘staycations’ or holidays inside the country remain strong, other travel-trend studies show a different picture altogether.

Research by ABTA, a UK-based association of travel agents, supported the findings, while another survey conducted by Travelzoo, a UK-based internet travel company, revealed that around 30 percent of Britons are expected to go abroad during the 2012 Olympics. Travellers seemed particularly keen to visit Mediterranean destinations, like Spain and Greece, and avoid the rush of international visitors to the country for the games.

Diane Bouzebiba, the managing director of Amadeus, a Spain-based company and technology partner for providers, sellers, and buyers in the travel industry, said, ‘While the Olympics undoubtedly presents a very exciting prospect for a lot of people, our survey shows that there are also plenty who are looking to get away.’

Auction Offers Fans a Piece of Olympic History

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has launched an auction website to generate income from all kinds of superfluous Olympic memorabilia.

With the world economy in a recession many organisations and corporations are seeking new ways to generate additional income, and LOCOG is no exception.

The 2010 Winter Olympics saw the launch of the first auction of memorabilia from the games, with equipment, podiums, seats, and all sorts of Olympic-oriented bric-a-brac that is traditionally thrown away once the games are over, put up for auction instead. The Canadian Olympic Committee generated over $6 million in additional revenue from that auction.

LOCOG has wisely followed suit and has begun Auctioning off items of Olympic interest. They have also embellished the selection available by adding in true memorabilia such as Olympic torches, including the torch recently signed by football star, David Beckham.

Fans wishing to bid on Olympic pieces, including the aforementioned London 2012 podiums and torches, should visit www.memorabilia.london2012.com , the London Olympic Auction site, where they can place a bid.

If the Canadians managed to raise $6 million to help pay their costs at the winter games, the summer London Olympic auction revenue should dramatically exceed that amount. And with the BBC reporting that the London Olympic’s is costing a total of £9.3 billion, every penny is likely to count.

London 2012 Festival Officially Opens To Celebrate 2012 Olympics Games

The London 2012 Festival, a 12-week celebration for international travellers visiting London for the Olympics Games, which start next month in the UK, has officially begun.

The festival is offering performances from international artists from across the globe, as well as some of the best performers from the UK, and has around 130 events scheduled for the opening week, all across the country. The gala event commenced on Thursday, June 21, 2012, with five smaller events happening at Stirling, Derry/Londonderry, South Wales the Lake District, and Birmingham.

From June 21 to September 9, 2012, the festival will be featuring around 25,000 artists from all 204 nations participating in the 2012 Olympic games. Audiences are welcome to participate with around 10 million complimentary tickets available for around 12,000 events, and performances held at 900 venues in villages, towns and cities in the UK.

London 2012 will also be celebrating the literary legacy of William Shakespeare with the World Shakespeare Festival, which includes performances and events at around 25 venues in the UK, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Ruth Mackenzie, the director for the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, said, ‘When the UK won the bid for the Olympics in 2005, we promised to return to Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s original idea of an Olympic Games based on the three pillars of sport, art and education. This summer, London 2012 Festival showcases the world’s greatest artists alongside the stars of the sports world, a once in a lifetime cultural experience to match the once in a lifetime visit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to the UK.’

Cable Car Ride over Thames Set To Open in London Next Week

Emirates Air Line, a transport company operating a cable car link across the River Thames in London, will be opening the route on June 28, 2012, ahead of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The £60 million network has been constructed in sponsorship with the UAE-based airline company, Emirates Airline.

Monocable Detachable Gondola (MDG) technology will be used to run the 1km long cable car line, which crosses the Thames River from the Greenwich Peninsula, and goes to the Royal Docks. The operation will be run by 34 cable cars, ferrying 2,500 passengers per hour.

The cable car will accommodate pedestrians, people with restricted mobility, as well as cyclists on the five-minute journey across the river. A single fare, which is available on an Oyster card, is priced at £3.20. For those without an Oyster Card, a single adult journey costs £4.30, and a Frequent Flyer ticket for the cable car is priced at £16.

Earlier, mayor Boris Johnson, said, ‘Gliding serenely through the air across the Thames will provide a truly sublime, bird’s eye view of our wonderful city.

This innovative airborne travel link will be a vital component in the ongoing renaissance of a vibrant easterly quarter of the Capital, providing a much-needed river crossing.’

The cable car will provide a panoramic view of the Thames River to its passengers and will be an added attraction the additional 500,000 tourists who will be visiting from international destinations for the 2012 London Games commencing at the end of July this year.

BA Say ‘Don’t Fly’ for London Olympics

British Airways, a UK-based air carrier, has launched an offbeat promotional campaign for the London 2012 Olympics, under the heading, ‘Don’t Fly. Support Team GB’.

The airline described the campaign heading as ‘tongue-in-cheek’, while saying that it was intended to encourage Britons to stay in the country during the Olympic and Paralympic games to support their team. It also stated that the campaign is linked to research that indicated the benefit of home advantage for athletes that perform on home soil.

However, the outbound industry, which has already been angered by a recent British government-funded domestic tourism campaign that was headed, ‘Why Would You Want To Go Abroad?’ is likely to be further displeased by this latest discouragement, despite the fact that it has been initiated by one of their own.

British Airways launched the campaign on Facebook at 11.00am today, and a new TV advert will be aired during tonight’s televised European Championship football match between England and Ukraine. The advert, backed by the soundtrack of ‘London Calling’ by the Clash, shows a BA aircraft taxiing through the streets of London, and when it reaches the Olympic park, the tagline, ‘Don’t Fly. Support Team GB and ParalympicsGB’, appears on screen.

The TV advertising will be supported by advertising in national newspapers, a poster campaign and promotions on social media formats, including Twitter with the hashtag #HomeAdvantage.

Commenting on the promotion, Frank van der Post, BA managing director of brands and customer experience, said, ‘We’re rallying the country to get behind Team GB and ParalympicsGB. That includes delaying your summer holiday. We are encouraging every clap, cheer and whoop we can get.’

Showpiece Cable Car Ready For Olympics

A Showpiece cable car that should provide visitors with spectacular views of the UK’s capital city is expected to be operational in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.

There had been doubts over whether the £50m structure would be available in time for the opening of the Olympic Games on July 27, but according to the Daily Mail, Justine Greening, the transport secretary, has received an application for final approval. If the cable car gets the expected go-ahead, visitors to the games will be able to use it to travel between the O2 Arena and the ExCel exhibition centre, two of the Olympic venues.

Emirates Airways has sponsored the hi-tech transportation system, and its 34 gondolas are expected to have enough capacity to convey 2,500 passengers per hour on the five-minute journey across the river from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks.

Whilst falling short of confirming that the cable car would definitely be open in time for the games, Boris Johnson, London’s lord mayor, commented, ‘Gliding serenely through the air across the Thames will provide a truly sublime, bird’s eye view of our wonderful city. This innovative airborne travel link will be a vital component in the ongoing renaissance of a vibrant easterly quarter of the Capital, providing a much-needed river crossing.’

How much the fare will be for the aerial trip across the river has yet to be announced, but as a tourist attraction the cable car will rival the London Eye, a 135-metre Ferris wheel that has been situated on the south bank of the Thames in central London since 1999.

London Olympics Proves Big Draw For Brits

London can expect a massive influx of British-based visitors for the 2012 Olympic Games, according to a new survey.

The survey, which was carried out by hotel comparison site, Trivigo, suggests that 73 percent more British travellers than usual will be visiting London during the period July 29 to August 12. That is 17.5 percent of all UK travellers at that time.

Additional data compiled by the company also concludes that visitors for the Olympics chose to book early in order to guarantee the accommodation that they required, rather than wait in the hope of getting a cheaper last-minute deal, which has become a popular strategy when making more general travel arrangements. A large proportion of Olympics visitors booked their accommodation between March and April.

A Trivigo spokesperson was reported in the Daily Mail as saying, ‘Although we can only speculate as to what is pulling so many visitors to London, the sheer excitement surrounding the event is enough to have an impact on visitor numbers. Aside from the abundance of smaller events set to take place in London during this time, the Olympics alone are a monumental historical event with an unparalleled atmosphere and sense of national pride – which assumingly many UK citizens want to be part of.’

Conversely, reports suggest that non-Olympic tourists from overseas are avoiding London during the games due to a perception that food and accommodation prices in the capital will be excessive.

According to estimates by Trivigo, during the games the average price of a London hotel will be £281, and 36 percent of rooms are still available to book.