Insights

UK Hotel Trends for COVID and Beyond

How have UK hotel regulations changed? And what's in store for the future of hotel hospitality? Continue reading to learn important updates and key insights for the future of hotels in the UK.

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A quick Check-in with our UK Hotel partners

In the UK, despite a large proportion of hotels being closed during the global pandemic, there has also been a significant number that have remained open throughout to service business for key workers. All hotels, regardless of their open status have had to go through a lengthy and ongoing process to ensure they are classified as COVID secure and fit for business during these very unusual times.

How Hotels Have Adapted since COVID-19 Outbreak

Ways hotels have made enhancements to support the virtual & hybrid world:

    • Partnering with technology specialists to ensure that they are offering a broad technology solution.
    • Enhancing current technology offers such as increasing bandwidths within hotels, investing in video studios etc.
    • Offering virtual site inspections and interactive collateral.
    • Offering live and pre-recorded content in the absence of face to
      face showcases.

COVID protocols that all major hotels have adopted:

    • Extensive and ongoing staff training on safety procedures, cleaning
      procedures and the latest government guidelines.
    • All public areas have been risk assessed and social distancing procedures put into place.
    • All meeting space will have been assessed and layouts revised to reflect
      social distancing protocols which can still be requested post freedom day.
    • All food and beverage outlets and offerings will have been revised to
      ensure a COVID secure approach In line with government guidelines.
    • Many hotels now offer a “bedroom seal of approval” where rooms are cleaned and the door is sealed so that the guest can be confident of cleanliness.
    • Obtaining accreditations / partnerships with industry recognised safety and cleanliness governing bodies such as Bureau Veritas, Lysol, SGS, AA, MIA.

CURRENT HOTEL SOURCING TRENDS IN THE UK

The Current State of Business for UK-based Hotels

As things in the UK begin to open, we spoke with our supplier partner network to get their insight on current booking trends and 2022 outlook. Here are a few key takeaways from these conversations.

What percentage of events are leisure vs corporate?

Hotels are seeing strong leisure demand across the UK, though less in London & key cities where crowding is more likely. Country house / regionally focused venues are proving popular. The corporate market is showing a more steady return with many corporate clients still operating travel bans and imposing their own COVID restrictions on meetings and events activity. However, it is anticipated that this will be short lived and as confidence grows post “freedom day” the commitment to both meetings & overnight stays with increase.

Your average rate post-COVID?

From a meetings perspective there is still much flexibility in 2021 for short lead meetings. In 2022 hotels are experiencing a high demand across all months so the focus will be to protect average rates with many benchmarking an increase against 2019.

What contract flexibility is being requested and how much “pen to paper” is taking place?

For 2021 COVID clauses are still being requested/issued as standard. Corporate contracts still require a multi-layer and higher level stakeholder sign off, hence the contract process has become longer and more protracted. There is more appetite to sign contracts for domestic events as the country moves out of lockdown. Internationally clients are signing contracts with more confidence for the second half of 2022, but again the expectation is that hotels will still provide protection via COVID clauses into 2022.

What makes a piece of business attractive in our “new normal”?

Hotels are assessing every piece of business on its own merits, though with social distancing, there is more flexibility on minimum numbers in meeting rooms in 2021. Corporate business is having to compete with leisure sector business (wedding in particular). The back log of these celebratory life events means that mid-week dates are no longer guaranteed for corporate business and it really is a race for space in these areas where the market is compressed. Our advice would be to ensure your event has full stakeholder sign off and that you are in a position to move quickly to secure space.

Your current destination insights?

With the huge question mark still hanging over international travel, clients are opting for UK based events to see out 2021. There is significant higher demand of hotels which can offer exclusive use and outside areas for events/catering. Regional hotels where delegates can drive/park are more popular than large city centres with a busy public transport system. For 2022 we are already seeing a compressed market in key peak conference months with availability now limited in all key cities in UK & across Europe. Availability will be harder to secure & option dates will shorten as a result.

What are your Hotel plans for accommodating social distancing post July 19th?

As has been the case the entire way through this pandemic, hotels have advised that they will continue to follow Government guidelines at the time of the event. Venues will be happy to offer options for both social distancing & non-distancing at time of enquiry but as we get back to more of a normal this may come with a cost attached if larger spaces are required.

Rachel Gasper

Written by Rachel Gasper

UK IR Manager, BCD Meetings & Events

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