Top holiday tip – Barcelona in a ten days’ time

One of the biggest experiments in algorithmic price management is currently underway, as the GSMA, the mobile industry’s lobby body, has scrapped this year’s Mobile World Congress gabfest.

MWC Barcelona was due to start in ten days.


And that experiment in algorithmic price management? 100,000 aircraft seats are suddenly empty. 100,000 hotel beds slumber undisturbed. Expect the biggest fire sale ever, and for those who can take the time, the last few days of February in Barcelona will be idyllic this year. It’s going to be fun watching the travel websites.

37 thoughts on “Top holiday tip – Barcelona in a ten days’ time”

  1. “Having to swipe through 22 click-bait ads to get to the comments is taking the mickey, Tim.”

    Use the Brave browser. No ads.

  2. Does this mean that the assorted escorts will also cancel their arrangements or will they be making special offers?

  3. Hmm.

    Most of the flight and room sales will be nonrefundable. Of course, the airlines and hotels will be delighted to be able sell those seats and rooms a second time, but what effect will the fact that they will lose little revenue in sticking to normal pricing have? It will be interesting to see – are you watching? Of is someone watching, perhaps some less senior research fellow at the ASI?

    On a second issue, having recently retired from running similar (if much smaller) gigs, to what extent is the conference organiser on the hook for those consequential losses its customers will suffer?

    And on a completely unrelated note, the website is again unusable on mobile because of your adverts. It keeps swiffing back to the adverts every few seconds. You scroll to the comments and get taken back there. And the huge data usage.

  4. Firefox & Adblock Plus seems to do the job.

    On the topic though, seriously? Is now the time to be sitting for hours in a metal infection tube, breathing in everybody else’s exhalations?

    There’s a reason so many people and companies have abandoned attendance. And just assuming it only kills the chinese is a bit premature. Unless the virus burns out in a week or so, we haven’t even begun to see the cancellations yet. This year is going to be very interesting, as in interesting times.

  5. On a second issue, having recently retired from running similar (if much smaller) gigs, to what extent is the conference organiser on the hook for those consequential losses its customers will suffer?

    I would imagine they are getting off the hook by claiming “force majeure”.

  6. Tim +1. That’s what I use on my phone.

    Got a couple of weeks away in March, going by air. I hope the infection rate in UK doesn’t explode before then, or we may not be welcome there.

  7. Fairly easy question to answer, as far as hotels are concerned. And from a quick scroll through a lot of hotels are showing full or only one or two rooms. Be interested to see how that changes.
    Although I wouldn’t count on it. You have to allow for the signature Spanish incompetence, inefficiency & laziness. Nothing is done today can’t wait for manana. Or happens over the weekend. They might get around to it by the end of the conference week. More likely they won’t. Or they’ll just price at the season rate. Notions of supply & demand don’t really figure in Spanish economic theory. Ask anyone who lives here.

  8. Indeed, Mr in Spain. But is it a dago thing?

    AFAICT, with those sites the data is always out of date – no matter where you are.

  9. Chinese Grand Prix in April also cancelled

    Coronavirus mortality rate (outside China) is circa 1 in 200 / 0.5%, seems to be lower in UK

    @Mr Womby February 13, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    Install uBlock Origin, imo better than ABP

  10. Gamecock,

    Indeed a lot of people don’t bother, and that will restrict the amount of overbooking that airlines and hotels actually do.

    You do get your taxes and charges back though, even on nonrefundable tickets. I keep myself in beer from colleagues by telling them that.

  11. Tim (C not W),

    The insanely panicked overreaction to coronavirus is likely to cause far more harm than the virus itself. If, as it looks, it’s ‘flu plus, we can let the thing go around the world and it’ll kill around 30 to 70 million people.

    Not nice if you are one of those people for sure, but as Tim (W, not C) tells us, there are no solutions, only trade-offs.

    Of course, we can attempt (and probably fail because it is obviously already too late) to stop it going around the world by shutting down large sections of the economy for a year, and hope they can somehow start up again thereafter (probably with mucho taxpayer dosho spaffed at them). That will kill far more than 70 million people (can you imagine how many people will die if China tells people they can’t go out in the fields/factories for a year?), and still probably won’t halt this thing. We obviously can’t trust any numbers coming out of China, but if they are even halfway trustworthy, this looks to my trained eye to be highly contagious but not particularly lethal, except for the usual groups that have it coming to’em (elderly, infants, immunocompromised).

    No liability for direct or consequential losses is accepted.

  12. Possibly one to file under ‘vCJD’.

    30 to 70 million? Over what time period?

    My guess, based on guessing and having seen this kind of thing and not getting my knickers in a twist, is half a million tops.

    Trust me, I’m a lawyer.

  13. “If, as it looks, it’s ‘flu plus, we can let the thing go around the world and it’ll kill around 30 to 70 million people.”

    I don’t think we know that. In absolute numbers, coronavirus hasn’t killed many. A few k in China? Flu kills hundreds of thousands every year.

  14. BiG: I’d certainly defer to your medical opinion, my comment wasn’t about that, it was more about how the reaction to the epidemic will grow and grow. As you say, that has far greater potential for harm. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen though.

    On the virus itself, the whole thing stinks. The numbers are clearly invented, and in the absence of any trustworthy figures, one can only suspect why the truth is not available.
    Mind you, I’d prefer not to air travel right now for mere discretionary reasons. Why gamble when you can wait and see?

    And if there’s any truth at all in the curious presence of the Level 4 Biolab in Wuhan, and the research into just this type of bug there…even the story has power to damage the Chinese authorities regardless of whether it’s fake or not.
    And if it destabilises the ruling class in PRC? How big an upset will that be! Collapse of USSR was big, yet isolated from the Western economies. Not so China.

    And M’Lud, I think you you quoting General Turgidson?
    “..we’ll get our hair mussed…..10-20 million tops, depending on the breaks!”

    NB vCJD struck close to home, so not just a story in the newspapers.

  15. It looks to be about 2-3 % fatalities on the reported numbers. And the ratio doesn’t change much when unreported numbers suddenly appear. The cruise liner stats might skew things a little but spare a thought for those poor bastards cooped up in the death zone

  16. The Spanish ‘flu is thought to have killed 50 million. The world’s population is much bigger now but it’s better fed and it probably has better treatment available for the seriously ill e.g. oxygen, and antibiotics for any bacterial complications.

    So 50 million this time too seems possible.

    But maybe many fewer: epidemiologists probably don’t advance their careers much by saying “calm down it’s not as bad as it looks”. They can’t, surely, be blind to the success of Climate Scientists in telling absurd porkies and seeing their discipline consequently flourish.

  17. A cry for help – can anyone tell me whether the WHO is any good? (My default assumption is that they may well be as crooked and useless as the UN. Is that assumption wrong?)

  18. There are many complications in calculating a likely fatality rate. First, we can assume China is lying massively about the numbers. Second, the number of cases is a low estimate as it is very likely many times more people are infected but don’t know it (and never will). The death numbers on the other hand are likely to be close to the real number (caveat: China). Third, cases include those in progress where there is still risk of death. So comparing deaths to cases only gives, currently, a crude estimate of the true fatality rate.

    The numbers from outside China, however support an overall low fatality rate, of influenza order of magnitude. There are hundreds of cases, but deaths still in the Bayesian range for calculating an event rate.

    There are level 4 biolabs all over the place. I worked in a level 2 facility of a place that had a level 4 lab, and as far as I know they weren’t weaponising viruses. Again we will never know what the Chinese are up to, but even if it has broken out of a lab (cloning has moved on since my day but if it has undergone any engineering you could probably tell) it doesn’t necessarily mean anything nefarious. There were identical conspiracies with HIV, SARS, and similar ones with Ebola.

    Off topic , those conspiracy theories in the developing world tend to involve population control, whereas in the West it’s usually an accident from nefarious weapons research. My favourite was a field test of sterile insect technique that got shut down by pitchfork-wielding locals. They were releasing irradiated sterilized males to mate with wild females in an attempt to cut the mosquito population, and word got out that scientists were releasing radioactive mosquitoes to sterilize men.

  19. Dearieme,

    I was thinking, that one of the biggest challenges is going to be getting immense numbers, tens to hundreds of millions of them, of oxygen bottles to the afflicted in need at peak epidemic. And getting them back off the families when the affected has recovered and someone else needs it.

  20. BiG: the biggest problem is that nowadays most supply chains start in China, drugs, widgets for delivering oxygen, masks, gloves, protective gear, bits of ct scanners, … know the essential stuff taken for granted in the first world.

  21. Yes, that’s why I said the panicked overreaction is going to do far more damage than everyone getting a bit of a cold and some number of them, comparable to other widespread infections, dying of it.

    As we have a nasty ‘flu going around at the moment, it’s also a competing risks thing. If you die of one you probably would have died of the other, that we aren’t shutting the global economy down to “contain”.

  22. BiG: the problem is the lack of herd immunity which is why ICUs are not overwhelmed by seasonal flu, because not everyone gets it. Even if Corvid19 causes a lower complication rate than flu the sheer numbers of infected will overwhelm the system, making delaying spread rational ; otherwise I suspect access to high quality care will be restricted to the nomenklatura of the administrative class

  23. Ljh: That zerohedge link is fascinating on so many levels.
    I enjoyed the graphs of traffic congestion levels in many Chinese cities, as reported by information-reporting hooks in TomTom satnavs.
    And then our politicos start complaining about Huawei! Priceless.

  24. It’s worth remembering that, on any average day in China, on the close order of 50,000 people die of natural causes. Probably more during winter.

    *** RICHARD ALERT ***
    I ticked the box to “save my name for future comments” and it’s just come up with Gamecock’s details (Including a presumably valid email address)

  25. Gamecock
    February 14, 2020 at 2:27 pm


    Wasn’t me . . . I didn’t post that.

    Though it’s smart enough it could have been me.

  26. Sorry Gamecock, ’twas I. As with SE, I’ve sent an email to Tim and Richard who are on the case.

    (I now know a valid email for you, but I promise not to use it or tell anyone.)

    This should appear as from ‘Chris Miller’, we shall see …

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