‘We’re shocked a bit’: Kazan hotels waiting for influx of guests in May

Kazan hotels are 80-100% booked at the beginning and end of suddenly prolonged May holidays. Will the middle, which became a day off only on 23 April, be full?

Prestigious Kazan four and five-star hotels had already been almost a hundred per cent full before Putin announced record-long May holidays. “No rooms available until 10 May,” Ramada, Hillton, Ibis hotel chains where the price of a double room varied from 6,000 to 20,000 rubles replied. Tatarstan hotel that stands out compared to them thanks to its low prices of 2,500-3,200 rubles, turned out to be completely booked too. However, the average occupancy rate of Kazan’s other hotels is 50% on 4 and 7 May, claimed head of the Association of Hoteliers of Kazan Gulnara Safina. It is late to focus on private houses — owners of country houses and apartments have already raised prices at least 1,5 times, while the supply is low, moreover, primarily in the suburbs.

People have already made plans

Tour operators considered the announcement of the country’s president that the days from 1 to 10 May will be festive as a direct signal to sell additional tours to the country’s regions. Moreover, these days are within the period of the validity of tourist cashback that expires on 15 June.

20% of subsidies in the form of cashback will be refunded for tourist services paid from 18 March 2012 (from 00.01 Moscow time) to 15 June 2021 (to 23.59 Moscow time), the Russian Agency for Tourism reminded citizens on 23 April. However, tour operators themselves don’t expect great growth of demand for domestic tours.

In their opinion, most Russians have already made plans for the May holidays, moreover, in reality, the number of tourists who are booking a holiday during this time isn’t so big, TASS cites.

“Those who wanted to spend the holidays outside their region have already booked a tour. A little more than a week left to the first ‘long’ holidays. People have already made plans. Also, hotels don’t have rooms at affordable prices anymore,” thinks Director General of Dolphin tour operator Sergey Romashin.

Will Kazan be able to welcome a new wave of tourists?

Better check, do not trust Booking.com

Booking.com, which’s popular among tourists to look for and book rooms, offers 442 options of accommodation in hotels and apartments in Kazan from3 to 5 May (randomly chosen).

As it was expected, the amount of low-cost options is the smallest. So 26 three-star hotels don’t have free rooms on those days. The price bracket is huge — from 5,200 rubles for a double room a night in Tatarstan hotel in the centre of Kazan to 50,000 rubles in Shalyapin Palace Hotel. If we choose a bigger period from 30 April to 10 May, the search shows 112 accommodation options.

However, this data cannot be considered representative and absolutely accurate because it is constantly updated. Kazan has quite a lot of hotels: 221 hotels with different stars. And not all of them sign an agreement on cooperation with Booking.com preferring to sell rooms themselves or with the help of other operators. However, both other operators and hotels themselves don’t inspire much hope.

No rooms available, dynamic pricing

When speaking every specific hotel, one finds out that a lot of hotel chains don’t have rooms available.

  • “No rooms available until 10 May,” Realnoe Vremya was said in five-star Ramada and Hilton hotels and the three-star Ibis.

    They are located at the heart of Kazan. The price of accommodation in them is higher than in the city’s hotels on average. Booking specialists say a double room costs from 6,000 to 20,000 rubles a night.

Even the big price tag doesn’t impede tourists from buying rooms as hot cakes. No result is found in the search.

  • “If there is no information on Booking.com, it means no rooms available,” Realnoe Vremya was said in DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Kazan City Center.

    However, on 23 April, one could find single rooms on the days that used to be festive, on 4 and 7 May, but they are very expensive.
  • “We have a dynamic pricing, depending on the hotel’s occupancy rate,” Ramada’s booking service explained.

    The hotel has rooms only after 10 May. Accommodation for five days — from 10 to 15 May — will cost 45,000 rubles for two.

Players of Kazan’s hotel market explained to Realnoe Vremya that hotel chains pursue their own pricing policy that coincides with the market’s general policy.

“Hotel chains work in accordance with the head office. But Kazan has much more independent hotels whose prices are much more affordable for mass tourists,” one of the players who wished to remain unnamed explained.

“20,000 rubles per night in Hilton? It is probably the only option left after booking,” commented head of the Association of Hoteliers of Kazan Gulnara Safina. “If options for 20,000 rubles can be found on the website of Booking.com, it doesn’t mean it is a standard price,” she disagrees. According to her, Kazan hotels haven’t raised prices for accommodation en masse.

“A room in Grand Hotel in early April cost 3,900, in Park Inn, it did 4,200, approximately the same was in Suleyman Palace and Relita,” Gulnara Safina enumerated. “But if we compare our prices with Crimea and Krasnodar Krai where a standard room in a five-star hotel can cost 85,000 rubles, it is peanuts.”

To start from Monday

Kazan hoteliers, of course, hope that the prolongation of the May holidays will lead to a rise in the occupancy rate:

“Now there are two types of sales: from 1 to 3 May and from 9 to 10 May. This is why sales during the first days will reach 100% and 80% during the second part. The days between the holidays — from 4 to 7 May — plunged. They were considered working days until recently, this is why the average occupancy rate on these days is around 50%.”

From Monday, hotels will be ready for a new influx of guests. Safina says:

“Not everybody knows this fact. It isn’t easy for a family to quickly make a decision about where to go on holiday. But I think everything will begin on Monday. We are all a bit shocked,” she admits reminding us that hotels still cannot forget the May lockdown in 2020. “Because people won’t obviously stay locked for 11 days. There is a probability that sales on these festive days will rise. But time will show.”

We will see if hotels will reconsider prices.

In theory, tourists have private houses as an alternative, but supply is low here.

Head of the Tatarstan Guild of Realtors Andrey Savelyev says that owners of country houses and apartments have already raised prices 1,5 times, and supply is low.

“Both houses are rented for 2,500 a night and cottages for 50 million a month,” he said. Another popular booking service — airbnb.com — shows a great price margin for private flat rent. Here one still can find a bed in a hostel for 1,000 rubles, while the average flat from 1 to 3 May will cost around 3,650 rubles per night (we found the lowest price in Aviastroitelny District). Prices of some 10-12,000 rubles for flats that are relatively close to the centre are more popular.

The Tatarstan State Committee for Tourism refuses to comment.

If tourists will leave the “Kazan booking”

Isn’t there a threat of the cancellation of booking in Kazan hotels because the prolongation of the May holidays now provides an opportunity of expanding the holiday and go to the south?

“We don’t expect because southern hotels are full, while only private houses in Crimea and Krasnodar Krai can host tourists,” said Gulnara Safina.

According to her, southern regions have never greatly influenced tourist traffic in Kazan: “They usually book all May in December and don’t change their mind”.

Safina reasonably notes that those who wanted to get a holiday on the beach booked Turkey or Krasnodar with Crimea and they won’t change priorities in favour of trips with excursions to Kazan.

Head of the Association of Hostels of Kazan Ilya Tsykunov agrees with her. According to him, a well-read tourist interested in history and ethnography comes to Kazan on the May holidays. Accommodation in hostels costs up to 3,500 rubles a night, but they aren’t in the programme of tourist cashback.

He doesn’t expect a great surge. He thinks that there will be more guests, of course, than during the pandemic, but not more than during big international competitions when up to 200,000 tourists arrived.

Russian Railway’s website was down for two hours

Still, Kazan is on the list of popular destinations that offer cashback. According to the Russian Agency for Tourism, tourists have managed to refund nearly 4 billion rubles since the launch of cashback in August 2020.

Besides traditional southern destinations, Saint Petersburg, Altai, Tatarstan, Perm Krai, Kaliningrad and Tyumen Oblast are on the list too.

Interestingly, the website of Russian Railways was unexpectedly down immediately after it was announced that the days from 1 to 10 days were festive. It was impossible to buy tickets for two hours. The website started to operate by the evening. The price of a trip from Moscow and Saint Petersburg to Kazan hasn’t changed yet.

As for flights, as the Tatarstan State Committee for Tourism said, there are 12 subsidised flights performed by UVT AERO to 12 Russian regions on the holidays. Kazan is also among them.

By Luiza Ignatyeva
Tatarstan