Overseas congress

Bridge Overseas run two overseas events a year on behalf of the EBU. Booking can only be made through Bridge Overseas. These events are very enjoyable but numbers have been dropping in recent years. Cost - which clearly are a factor - seem to be overly high? For instance the Feb 2020 event at the Hotel Quirinale in Rome Bridge Overseas are charging £699 pp for the 7 nights B&B. On the internet the same deal is currently being offered at £483 for two people ! That is over a £900 difference for a couple ... a pretty steep charge for a couple of airport transfers and use of the playing area. Where one of the couple is a non bridge player (surely to be encouraged) the differential is even more extreme. You would have hoped that booking a significant number of rooms out of season would enable a decent discount. Instead one of the parties seems to be making a large profit.
Could the competitions team please review the costings of these overseas congresses ... including allowing the option for attendees to book their own accommodation directly.


  • I have been a regular attendee at EBU overseas congresses. The attendance at such events has fallen dramatically and I am now looking elsewhere for overseas bridge events: partly because of the attendance decline and partly because of the excessive accommodation prices. I believe that the attendance decline can be traced back to the time when the EBU outsourced most of the event. It is now not really an EBU event but a Bridge Overseas event. It is clear that the prices for accommodation are well over the prices that can be obtained by going independently. You used to be able to do this and be charged an additional fee of something like £50 for the services of Bridge Overseas ... we are now basically paying £100s for their services. I know the money is not necessarily going to them and I have no issue with them as an organisation but when they go for block bookings of out of season rooms their coming is manna from heaven to the hotels who charge them way over the prices they would charge to the independent traveller. The reason the EBU went for start/end of season was that they could get the accommodation at a reasonable price ... that advantage has now disappeared with this outsourcing. So much so that Bridge Overseas say they cannot get start of season deals at seaside resorts or towns so have moved to capital city locations. I am not unhappy with the capital cities but you have seen a big drop in attendance as many went for the seaside resorts. Independent travellers can get the prices at seaside resorts even if Bridge Overseas cannot.

    I think a major re-think is required or these overseas congresses will dwindle and die on the vine.
  • @zeno said:
    I have been a regular attendee at EBU overseas congresses. The attendance at such events has fallen dramatically

    I've been back and looked at the numbers over the last few years and this is simply not true. Inevitably for overseas congresses some venues will be more popular than others, but if you compare each congress with the previous ones at the same time of year there is no consistent decline. We are actually set to have one of our busiest ones ever in Sicily next month.

    As to the pricing issue, yes you can often find a cheaper deal among the leftover rooms after we have taken our allocation, but you couldn't get 120-160 rooms like that, many of them for single use, and you certainly couldn't plan an overseas congress based on people making their own booking arrangements as they see fit. Nor would you have a dedicated host from the holiday company there to help with any travel & accommodation issues that might arise, as well as bridge hosts to ensure that no-one has to sit out or be without a partner.

    You also seem to suggest that Bridge Overseas' involvement in our overseas congress is a recent change, but they have been running them for us for the last 10 years!

  • Gordon, thank you for your reply

    facts generally trump perceptions!

    also 10 years is a long time when you are young but increasingly seems to be a short time

    I thought there was a time when Bridge Overseas were running the event but that you still had the option of independent travel

    I do remember paying my own way in Estoril , we also paid our way in Crete but were informed we had broken the guidelines and not to do it again. My perception therefore was that Crete was the first time that a complete outsourcing had occurred

    I still feel that this tie up (I am sure there is another word for it ... and I think in some industries it is illegal) that in order to go on an EBU event , you are forced to use the services of another specific company on an exclusive basis , has been partially responsible for declining numbers - at least on the Spring events which is why I thought the Spring congresses had moved from seaside locations to city locations (one of the reasons).

    I am very pleased the Sicily congress is going to be well attended - I had no idea of numbers but thought you might also lose quite a few here as it has been timed to coincide with a Jewish festival which I understand will mean that a lot of London players will not be going,

    I cannot really accept that the reason we can get low prices independently is that we are booking the last few available rooms

    I am not looking on lastminute.com. I am looking at Rome next year, some months away in a Capital city- I hardly think they are scrambling for last minute customers yet.

    However when a potential partner of mine has to pay more to Bridge overseas for his (non-playing) partner to sleep in the same room as him than he would have to pay for a double room independently is ludicrous. It will be cheaper if he pays for an extra double room for her ... until he has to pay the single supplement to Bridge overseas. The financial box he finds himself in (nearly £1000 extra to go with Bridge overseas) means he will not be going and neither will I

    If it does not put others off then all well and good and I understand why you would not change ... I understand that these overseas congresses are still good revenue earners for the EBU so you are not being hurt financially so no need to review but who knows ?
  • I wanted to also mention flights. For Porec the EBU web site says there are low cost flights available. The cheapest flight I can find from Manchester is just over £400. Hardly low cost. From the North I can travel to London and then get cheap flights but that involves additional cost in itself. Does someone consider access for us Northerns when choosing Congress venues?
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