Tourism businesses must offer a reason to stay


Having spoken to a lot of hoteliers and other tourism businesses, we’ve found that those who cater for families are generally more worried about 2012 than those who cater mainly for young professionals and older couples with more disposable income.


Household budgets are under pressure from high inflation and low growth in the economy, which is why we’ve seen a move towards shorter stays and day visits.


While inflation is expected to fall back next year, families are still going to have very specific holiday budgets.


Interest rates are expected to remain low throughout next year, which is good news for hoteliers looking to borrow to invest in their properties. That said, we’re aware of a number of businesses that are still tied into loans taken out a three or four years ago when rates were much higher, so haven’t seen the benefit of current low rates. Likewise, businesses with cash reserves haven’t been seeing the same return on their deposits.


Competition remains fierce and once again, our experience is that it’s those operators who have raised their game that are doing better.


Those that have packaged up deals and have marketed these promotions effectively through a professional online presence are making a good go of it.


Leisure businesses have to offer value for money and visitors have to be made to feel special, that they’re getting a good deal.


My top piece of advice is to listen to customers. Talk to them about what they want to see and what they value and see if you can use this information to improve the service. Customers need to be given a reason to come back and stay again.