It’s a cliché, sure, but the iconic British phrase ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ has felt apt recently, what with terrorist attacks, political turmoil, the fire at London’s Grenfell Tower housing estate, and general global chaos.
And it would seem the hospitality industry has done just that. This month we reported that there has been next to no impact on occupancy in central London hotels, the number of inbound tourists and the amount of money they are spending are at record highs, and the hotel development pipeline shows Britain at the top of the table for the whole of Europe. What turmoil?
That said, not all is rosy. Events in recent weeks also brought to light some of the hazards in owning large properties, namely the hideous tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire in London. The disaster has prompted a review of around 600 high rise buildings around the country by local authorities worried about the use of similar cladding systems to that which is thought to have contributed to the rapid spread of fire at Grenfell. Dozens have already filed ‘combustibility’ tests.
Naturally, the media and public spotlight is on what government can control or is already responsible for, but the private sector has some soul-searching to do, too. Premier Inn in particular has publicly expressed concern about what cladding systems may have been used on buildings in its sprawling portfolio of properties. The slings and arrows are to be expected with governments of all hues, but the PR catastrophe that a similar such fire would constitute for a chain of hotels? Well, I would wager it could sink a brand with a trace.
What’s ironic about the fire in Grenfell is that the cladding system was intended to improve the energy consumption and heat retention of the building – an exercise in improving sustainability. The whys and wherefores about regulatory requirements and whether they were met are yet to be unravelled.
This issue, we have our Sustainability Hotshots feature which is concerned with how to be a better hotelier for the environment. Perhaps ask more questions than normal though, if you’re planning new insulation.