UK: A fan village for this week’s Cheltenham Festival had to be scrapped after only 16 bookings were made at the 300-place facility, according to the Racing Post.
The temporary facility, which offered rooms in pop-up container units from £950 for a minimum five-night stay, was set to be marketed as a cheaper alternative to hotels and BnBs in the area, especially with a huge influx of racing fans expected to attend over the course of a week. However, the low take-up in reservations meant that the organisers had to abandon the project as they said they would not have been able to break even.
The village was due to be located on a training pitch at Cheltenham Tigers Rugby Club near the racecourse, and include units ranging from twin to quad and en-suite rooms. It is reported that only eight units had been reserved at the start of the week out of 300 units that were provisionally made available.
The low booking numbers have been attributed to the cost-of-living crisis and a short marketing lead-up time, which began back in December.
Oliver Williams, managing director of part-organisers StayLets, told the Racing Post: “It was a challenge. We had about 50 per cent of what would have been viable to break even and it simply wasn’t worth it. It was always a bit of a gamble, but we still think it’s a very good idea and there’s a market for it.
“I got up to 15 bookings and more than half fell away. I’m a bit concerned as I live in Cheltenham and do some stuff for local businesses and it’s the same for them. If the footfall is dropping because people aren’t staying over during race week, that’s a problem,” he added.
The organisers plan to relaunch the fan village concept at the 2024 festival and proposals are already underway.