$20K a week for RWC house? Try a free swap instead

By Susie Nordqvist

Photo / Amos Chapple
The Jameson family home in Waiuku. The Jamesons are offering their house to Rugby World Cup visitors and are encouraging others to do the same.
Photo / Amos Chapple The Jameson family home in Waiuku. The Jamesons are offering their house to Rugby World Cup visitors and are encouraging others to do the same.

While some people are asking $20,000 a week in rent for their home during next year's Rugby World Cup, one Kiwi says he can do much better for free.

John Martin reckons he saved himself about $16,000 in accommodation, rental cars, and meals out by opting into a home exchange programme during a recent three-month holiday to Europe and the UK.

The number of top end listings continues to grow on accommodation websites in New Zealand during next year's cup, but many remain unrented, despite being advertised for months.

The Hospitality Association says most homeowners wanting $20,000 a week or more are dreaming.

Martin, the Kiwi director of international home exchange programme HomeLink International NZ, said it was clear some people were taking advantage of the situation.

"I can't really denigrate them, but it doesn't really compare with our situation at all."

Martin said about 30 people had offered their homes during year's Rugby World Cup through his service, although he's disappointed more rugby fans from overseas haven't registered an interest.

"We believe that maybe some people are caught up in package tours and tickets are made available to them as a priority. So if you are going into bat individually you may be struggling to get a ticket or tickets."

Martin said people paid a membership fee of $230 and they were eligible to use the service.

"There are a number of New Zealanders who don't wish to be here for the Rugby World Cup. So that is a wonderful opportunity for those people and perfect timing for shoulder season tourism. They couldn't do it cheaper," he said.

"It spreads the tourist dollar a long way if you aren't paying for accommodation," he said.

Meanwhile Waiuku woman Leah Jameson has set up a Facebook page to share information about Kiwi homes that are available to rugby fans and is offering her rumpus room to fans during the cup.

She said package holidays were particularly popular with English tourists, but she has another theory on why people haven't been as forthcoming as she would have liked.

"The bloody hotels charging $10,000 a week are giving us a bad name!." Jameson said.

"If people are reading (already) the prices of accommodation on international media sites, they probably are too scared to commit to the costly options."

"Imagine the international impression we would give if we as a country were seen to be offering friendly, affordable places to stay (in our own homes), rather than be seen to be taking advantage of the visitors," she said.

An Irish tour agent for next year's Rugby World Cup is advising independent travellers to hold off booking for a couple of months until prices have dropped, but one New Zealand tourism executive said that could prove risky for tourists.

Trevor Brennan Rugby Tours managing director Mark Pinsent told IrishTimes.com some quotes for accommodation in New Zealand during the games were "ridiculously priced".

Pinsent, who travelled earlier this year to New Zealand to survey accommodation for Irish tour packages, told the website that New Zealand hotels were "shooting themselves in the foot and not doing anyone any favours with prohibitive pricing" structures.

Tourism Auckland chief executive Graeme Osborne said he believed the number of highly priced accommodation options were isolated and that the sooner people booked their accommodation the better.

"There's always going to be accommodation pressure in the bigger cities so I think that advice does have some risk to it," he said.

"We are now within the 12 months of Rugby World Cup 2011 so there's more hotel inventory we expect to come online, which will hopefully provide some alternatives to some of these expensive options."

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