The current hotel marketplace

Claire Lancaster is an experienced hospitality marketing specialist and head of social media at Manchester based IF Agency. Formerly Marketing Controller for the De Vere and Village Hotel brands Claire takes a look at the challenges the UK’s hotel sector faces along with strategies and solutions to drive results and growth.

Times change, so lets first get a context and look at the current marketplace. For both London and the provinces, 2017 was a hard act to follow. 2018 was held back by uncertainty and a slowdown in both economic growth and business travel volumes. However, this was fortunately balanced by a weakened pound encouraging inbound leisure travel, Harry and Megan’s Royal Wedding and one of the hottest summers on record for the UK.

Overall in 2018 occupancy levels and rates have been static, which is predicted to continue in 2019. London is forecast to see relatively resilient growth in the next two years, nudging just 0.3% in occupancy to 83.6% - still very high. Growth in the provinces is predicted to slow, with demand and pricing decelerating but forecasted occupancy levels are being maintained at 76% and £55 RevPAR. [Source: PWC, UK Hotels Forecast update for 2019 and 2020]

International tourism remains buoyant with record numbers visiting the UK and the weak pound will continue to support the demand for accommodation. Consumer income challenges suggests that domestic short breaks and "staycations" will be expensive and unlikely to grow this year, although a replay of last years sizzling UK summer could change this.

Although visitors across all price segments are at record levels, accommodation supply and competition is a challenge. With serviced apartments and a growing Airbnb inventory adding to consumer choices and dampening occupancies, 2019 will certainly be a tough operating environment and year ahead for hoteliers.

The above predictions for 2019 are based on the UK achieving a Brexit deal. This is best case scenario and a no-deal Brexit could have significant commercial impact.

Marketing in the hotel industry is very results-orientated. It’s all about revenue and core focus is to drive improvements from both the top line and bottom line, increasing occupancy, RevPAR and customer loyalty at the same time as driving efficiencies from marketing spend.

At IF Agency we’re working with clients to identify, prioritise and address the most important issues facing their business and accommodation portfolios. Now is the time to plan and act.

Below are five key marketing challenges faced by hoteliers trying to improve their commercial performance this year and outshine competitors by engaging prospective guests before rivals or distributors get the chance.

Which of these five challenges is your brand or property facing in 2019?

Click on for strategies and tips to consider for overcoming them:

1. Lack of Loyalty

2. Content Competition

3. Paid Promotion

4. Direct Distribution

5. Back to Basics

What do you think will cause you the most issues?

Can IF Agency help your hospitality business grow?

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