Paris is a globally renowned hub for business travel, meetings and events – as well as for leisure travel. However, organising business travel to the bustling French capital requires particularly careful planning during global events, such as the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, when millions of visitors are expected to fill the city.
If your organisation is planning on business trips, or hosting events, in the city during the Olympic Games (26 July – 11 August) or the Paralympic Games (28 August – 8 September), read on for valuable insights into how to navigate Paris during this busy time.
Prepare for strong demand, high prices
Finding a meetings and event venue and group accommodation within the vicinity of the capital during the Olympic Games will be challenging, Reed & Mackay Events Team Lead Harriet Warren explains.
“High demand and lack of availability means rates are already up to four times the average,” she says. “Many hotels are even placing minimum night stays for bookings of their meeting rooms.”
If there is no flexibility in your organisation’s dates for business travel, areas further out from the Paris city centre may be a better option, although accommodation up to an hour away for groups is already almost at capacity.
Reed & Mackay Global Programme Manager, Commercial, Slavka Gindeva agrees business travellers should consider staying outside the city. “Even if you book now, hotels are putting up prices and can even refuse a reservation,” she explains. “We’re seeing some corporate rate proposals for destinations outside Paris and they’re breaking next year into seasons, before and after summer; that’s when you’re more likely to see corporate rates rather than during the Olympics period.”
Warren adds that although group bookings are already locked in, there may be a compromise for those with under 10 room reservations. ‘Some clients have been willing to split bedrooms as it is essential to be near Paris during that time,” she adds.
“For companies whose groups are also attending the Olympic Games, it may be possible to manage accommodation through housing associations or request permission through contracted-out hotels.”
Plan for extra travel time
If your organisation does need to be in Paris in the summer of 2024, anticipate that – due to the large influx of international travellers – the time transferring out of airports will be longer, as increased numbers need to go through customs and security.
In Paris itself, there’ll be a significant increase in the volumes of people using public transport. Heightened road congestion is also expected, especially towards the various Olympic Games locations in Paris including the Eiffel Tower Stadium, Paris La Défense Arena and Chateau de Versailles. Business travellers should plan in extra time for getting to and from meetings and events.
At the time of publishing, France’s rail company SNCF has not yet released timetable or fares information for train travel during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. However, it’s likely that 15,000 trains will operate daily between 26 July and 11 August.
It may be worthwhile to pre-book private car transfers rather than rely on taxis; this will give travellers more time to get to their destinations and removes the stress of low taxi availability.
Also consider that Paris is not the only destination for Olympic events and these cities may also experience higher costs, higher demand and more travel time to get there. The Ile de France region – which surrounds the capital – will host a number of Olympic and Paralympic events; other host cities include Lille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille.
Leverage your TMC’s support
Ensuring travellers are adhering to your company’s travel policy is key; if travellers book outside the travel programme it scatters booking data across various platforms and is hard to keep track of.
Programme fragmentation also heightens security risks in terms of an organisation’s duty of care to its employees, potentially impacting the travel manager’s ability to respond to travellers in a crisis. Using a TMC’s end-to-end booking solutions not only saves time for travellers and travel managers but also streamlines data visibility and facilitates full control over expenditures.
Make risk management a priority
As with all Olympic Games’ host cities, Paris will have the highest level of security and be on alert to any security risks. Ensure your risk management policy is implemented throughout your company’s business travel policy. Reed & Mackay clients have access to R&M/Protect – our unique travel risk management platform – which is supported by an expert in-house Emergency Travel Service.
Our consultants are also in regular communication with clients via email to update them on any changes that may occur leading up to their trip and during their stay.
Move your meetings
Warren advises that if it’s possible to move your meeting to a quieter time, such as the months following the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in September and October, this could avoid any extra travel stress. “This will also open up accommodation options and be far more cost effective,” she adds.
Did you know…?
Reed & Mackay is a travel expert for large-scale sporting events. Read our case study on how Reed & Mackay organised travel for the Australian Olympic Team for both Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, the latter of which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.