1st October 2018

Hotel experts focusing on balance to ensure the best of both markets

With increasing uncertainty and weaker UK economic growth set to persist – according to the latest PwC UK Hotel’s Forecast Update 2018/19 – the hospitality industry must consider how best to maintain a consistent stream of demand in an increasingly volatile market.

RBH, the UK’s leading independent hotel management company, is focusing on a diverse offering across its 70-strong portfolio of properties in order to ensure the best possible returns for owners by capitalising on fluctuating inbound and domestic tourism markets.

Rob Ledson, the company’s Group Director of Sales, said:

There are a number of factors at play in terms ensuring commercial success in uncertain times. In the past, inbound tourism has been a major focus, particularly throughout 2017 when the weak pound attracted visitors from Europe, the USA and beyond. However, the feeling throughout the industry – and highlighted by PwC’s recent forecast – is that this will tail off as the year comes to an end.

UKInbound has also carried out survey work that suggests decreasing business confidence in prospects for inbound travel this year. Our own statistics show that domestic travel into areas like London and Leicester has declined slightly year-on-year, whilst for Manchester and the West Midlands it has increased.

To this end, we’re placing a strong focus on offsetting any dip in inbound tourism with a focus on properties that will attract a captive domestic audience to real tourist destinations outside of London, whilst still keeping a keen eye on those areas still thriving on inbound tourism. It’s all about balance, and hoteliers shouldn’t be giving up hope when it comes to attracting guests from outwith the UK.”

Towards the end of 2017, RBH took on management of more than 20 four-star luxury properties in the shape of the QHotels portfolio – most of them complete with spa and golf facilities as well as multiple dining options. It is these properties that make a compelling travel option for domestic tourists.

Rob continued:

The QHotels portfolio has given us the opportunity to tap even further into the demographic that wants to travel within the UK for a relaxing short break, but still has the capacity to attract the international tourist who is looking for a quintessentially ‘British’ experience with afternoon tea, rounds of golf and lush, green vistas.

In fact, we’re in the process of working with Hilton to rebrand five of these hotels as part of its DoubleTree by Hilton collection – giving each hotel the benefit of association with a globally-recognised, trusted brand. Three of the five have already been re-branded, with work quickly progressing on the remaining two.”

Rob added:

Whilst we take a broad, strategic view on inbound versus domestic tourism, we do rely on the local knowledge of our teams on the ground at each hotel. They see firsthand who is staying at the hotel, country of origin for future bookings, and which areas are perhaps tailing off.

And it is important that the teams are given the autonomy to target their efforts accordingly – whether that’s narrowing social media advertising down to specific demographics, or getting the team familiar with cultures and traditions of certain parts of the world in order to give guests a genuine, authentic experience. So whilst it is important to be aware of trends on a UK-wide basis, with such a large and growing portfolio, our approach cannot be one size fits all – and we must be ready to react and respond accordingly.”