TOP hotelier Tony Story has begged fellow owners and guest house bosses to ease up on prices during the summer bonanza.
His appeal follows the Courier’s revelation last week that it was more expensive to stay in some Inverness venues than London for one night.
With demand for accommodation outstripping supply, the cost of some double rooms has been more than £400.
And one Glasgow couple paid just under £2000 for 10 nights in a double room at Pentahotel in Academy Street but subsequently discovered their room was smaller than expected and did not have a wardrobe.
Management moved the couple to a larger room when they complained after two nights.
Mr Story, managing director of Patio Hotels Group which owns the plush Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness, warned: "You don’t want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
"If tourists are turned off by prices then they won’t return.
"In Inverness, for July and August, the market just now is doing extremely well, but we all know that on August 31 it is like a switch going off. The trade drops.
"But I do fear if we [hoteliers and B&B owners] charge too much then we’ll develop a reputation.
"People will find somewhere else and head out to various other countries like Vietnam or Thailand where their money could go further. So we have to really make sure we give fair value.
"Prices here do go up in August, but that’s got to go back into the properties to improve standards and that’s what we are doing.
"But I would say, ideally, what we should be doing is bringing prices down a bit in the summer and putting them up a bit in the winter to try and meet in the middle so that it’s more fair and would achieve the same effect.
"I have a team of sales people with the main purpose of keeping my hotel full with the highest price rate without damaging the market.
"So, what I am saying to others in the city is to take your foot off the gas a bit while still giving good value."
It comes as Del Graham, landlord of the Blackfriars pub in Academy Street, described prices being charged by some city hotels as scandalous.
"As an Invernessian, I am gobsmacked," he said.
He has spoken to visitors who booked rooms in Aviemore for £250 a night because they were unable to get accommodation in Inverness.
"I do worry about the reputation of Inverness," he said. "Just now, there are so many tourists around, hotels are trying to make hay while the sun shines. I think it is general throughout the industry."
Mr Story added: "What everyone has to remember is that tourism is our number one industry here and we cannot afford to get it wrong."