Perhaps the most important change is the higher National Living Wage coming in to force in 2016. From April, staff have to be paid a minimum of £7.20 an hour, which is 50p up on the current rate. Although there are fears that this will impact on the cost of eating out, in an attempt by restaurants and hotels to cover rising salaries, not everyone is pessimistic.
Mitchells & Butlers (owners of All Bar One, Browns and Harvester) has made it clear that the chain’s aim is to increase consumer spending through “tactical price opportunities” across its outlets, encouraging diners to “trade-up” to a more premium menu.
This philosophy can be well adopted by the hotel industry, who can see a return on investment by providing a more varied and palatable menu in house, rather than guests finding eating-houses in the immediate surroundings. A better and more varied menu, catering for all tastes can bring in much needed revenue.
Overseas Visitors Projected to Increase
There is also a good forecast for overseas visitors, whose numbers are predicted to hit £23bn this year as the number of visits to the UK rise. The figures from VisitBritain predict a 4.3 percent increase in spending on last year due to a 3.8 percent rise in the number of visits to 35.5 million by the end of the year.
Last year was undoubtedly boosted by the hosting of the Rugby World Cup, when London hotels recorded a 2 percent year-on-year increase in profitability. Joe Stather, CBRE Hotels Intelligence Manager EMEA said: “In Q4, with over 2.5 million visitors coming to the UK to watch the Rugby World Cup, and three out of the 13 rugby stadia being in the capital, there was an explosion in demand for London’s hotels, returning the sector to profitability by year end.” Other cities that hosted games outside the capital also showed an increase in profits.
Although there are no major sporting events planned in the UK this year, other events may entice visitors, including the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The hotel industry can capitalise upon the expected demand of visitors and use this to their own ends.
Social Posting Important
Finally, mobile marketing and mobile commerce is about to take off, so hotels be aware of the power of the networks! Social media is highlighted as being a powerful medium to attract visitors.
According to a recent survey “71% of 18 to 45 year olds frequently share images on social media while dining or drinking out, presenting venues with a wealth of opportunity to obtain immediate, positive brand mentions and gain valuable peer-to-peer recommendations that reach a wide audience.”
With four social media postings every second across the UK, this form of customer interaction, if harnessed properly can be an utterly invaluable marketing tool for media savvy hoteliers. If nothing else, make sure you have free WiFi so that customers can share their food immediately. And don’t forget to also connect with other businesses like AC Services to help you spread the word among the hotel industry and with more clients.