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Touts target Oktoberfest table bookings

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Touts target Oktoberfest table bookings
Photo: DPA
15:31 CEST+02:00
Beating the crowds at Oktoberfest often means reserving a table – but as it gets tougher to find a place to park one’s Bierstein, scalpers are sensing opportunity. Tent landlords are now cracking down on the black market for table reservations.

Munich daily TZ reported that some table reservations go for as much as €4,000 online. The paper cited a tally by brand protection firm MarkMonitor, which said more than 130 table reservations are being sold on the internet second-hand – a violation of the terms and conditions of the initial booking.

The problem has prompted tent landlord Thomas Vollmer to join in the cyber-war on table touts. He and his colleagues at Augustiner, Munich’s oldest brewery, have spent months scouring the web for scam artists.

“We caught 10 sellers in recent weeks,” he told TZ. “It’s the only way we can preserve the Wiesn’s good reputation.”

Vollmer said when big companies book more tables than they need, an employee will sometimes sell the extra reservation online. But bookings can also be sold off by private individuals – at a major profit.

If a tent landlord finds out that a table reservation is being touted online, he cancels the booking – sometimes even for the entire company.

The top bosses at the festival tents have started pooling their resources to tackle the problem together. They compiled a “black list” of internet sellers, which Vollmer said now includes 50 names.

The operator of the Hofbräu tent, Friedrich Steinberg, told TZ that such cooperation is key. “It's getting worse and worse with the Wiesn black market,” he said. “That’s why we exchange information.”

But this time next year, they could be facing even bigger problems: Next week, the Munich city council is due to decide whether it should allow fewer table reservations for Oktoberfest in 2013. The tent landlords worry that could create even more demand on the black market.

The Local/arp

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