After a shorter than usual wait since the postponed 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, Paris is set to host the Olympics and Paralympics later this year. France has hosted a series of big sporting events in recent years, including EURO 2016 and the 2023 Rugby World Cup, but the size of this year’s events will outstrip both.
Estimates vary, but the number of visitors to Paris is set to cross at least 10 million between July and September. With parts of the local infrastructure put under strain during the games, the cost and availability of accommodation and transport will undergo significant changes, albeit temporarily. We recommend that international HR managers consider the impact of the games on several benefits components of assignments, both new and ongoing, in Paris and other locations in France. The greatest impact is likely to be on accommodation.
As with previous Olympic Games, we expect certain dynamics in the long-term rental market in Paris in 2024. Landlords who usually rent out on long-term contracts may aim to remove tenants shortly before the games. This is because renting out the property on the short-term market at inflated prices would generate a greater rate of return during the event, after which the property is likely to return to the long-term rental market. The appeal of short-term rentals means that the availability of long-term accommodation might be restricted during the games, with what is available going at higher rates than usual. Some landlords may use the Olympics as an excuse to raise rents in the months immediately prior to the event, disregarding any market-based reason and attempting to capitalise on market conditions during the games. After the conclusion of the Paralympic Games in early September, we should see the long-term rental market return to pre-event conditions.
Those renewing or signing new leases during the Olympic period will therefore be most affected. To help alleviate this, we recommend trying to enter lease negotiations as early as possible where properties are up for renewal in 2024. Where possible, we encourage managers to try to avoid starting new Paris assignments during the games, when it will be more difficult not only to look for permanent accommodation, but also to find somewhere to stay while doing so. For the same reasons, this would not be a good time to organise a look-see visit, although avoiding one may not always be possible.
Hotels and serviced accommodation
Short-term accommodation prices always increase during major events as the local population balloons. HR practitioners will need to prepare for highly inflated prices for hotels and serviced apartments for the duration of the Olympics. Business trips scheduled for August and early September would benefit from rescheduling, where possible, to avoid elevated costs.
As over 10 million people are expected to visit Paris, the prices of temporary accommodation, such as hotels, serviced apartments and Airbnb properties will swell for the duration of the games. Hotel room costs could potentially spike by 300% in comparison to current prices, with serviced apartments likely to show 200% increases. Availability will also be severely limited, with many hotels in central Paris no longer taking bookings between late July and early September. Higher prices are also expected for cities within a commutable distance of Paris, including Strasbourg and Lille.
What about flights?
It is not just accommodation where price spikes will occur - flight prices will be significantly inflated during the games, although the scale of price rises will depend on when flights are booked. Fares to and from Paris will be more expensive between July and September if booked one or two months ahead of travel. However, summer flights booked now should see much smaller increases. Therefore, in terms of starting assignments, pre-assignment trips, and home leave visits either into or out of France, we advise reserving flights as soon as possible to help avoid significantly inflated costs. Spikes in fares should also be considered if Paris is part of a connecting route.
The ’Olympic effect’ after the games
As the Paralympic Games conclude on 8th September, the accommodation market in Paris should quickly return to pre-event conditions. Flight prices should also return to pre-game levels, but Paris tourism levels are likely to be higher than usual after the games, causing above-average fares until the post-Christmas period.
Paris aims to make its games sustainable and ecological through reducing carbon emissions. From maximising the use of public transport and electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, to running generators on biofuels, the Olympic hosts aspire to both transition and boost climate action during and after the event. Nonetheless, the games will still significantly add to France’s carbon footprint, just less so than previous summer games. With environmentalism in mind, the use of accommodation and flights for travel may be rethought in future Olympic events to benefit the climate.
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