Christie and Co has published its latest industry report on hotel reopening trends across the UK, which examines market trends in the UK during the first and second lockdown and presents the overall reopening picture of the market.
Examining the effect of the first lockdown on the industry, its research indicates that over 50% of the total number of UK hotel rooms were temporarily closed during April.
As hoteliers adapted to the ‘new normal’, however, it found that they became increasingly confident in re-adjusting their operating models and responding to new demand coming from key workers.
As a result, there was an increase in open hotels during May and June, with total UK open room supply reaching 54%. During this period, occupancies were at 23% on a national level, with significant variances across individual markets.
On 4 July, hotels in the UK were permitted to reopen to the wider public under strict safety measures and with limited facilities and service offering.
This reportedly “marked the moment” of an accelerated upward trend in open rooms across the UK. Estimates show that July ended with 85% of the rooms reopened, a “significant” indicator of confidence in the summer season.
London reopened with only 67% of the rooms stock in July, however, while Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh kept only 60% of the rooms open due to local regulations and limited demand in the market, as corporate travel remained subdued.
Regional UK hotels followed a more accelerated trend due to demand from leisure holidaymakers, however, and October marked the peak with 94% of total room supply trading.
Christie’s noted that hoteliers started to “lose confidence” following the second lockdown, with many hoteliers deciding to close despite being allowed to stay open for corporate travel in limited numbers. It added that the lack of substantial leisure demand “pushed the needle towards closures”.
The reopening trend after the second lockdown was also “less spectacular”, according to Christie’s, as the anticipated Christmas demand was “put into question” following the announcement around tiered restrictions.
It found that the Christmas peak never materialised, with demand slashed following December’s announcement of a third lockdown. In light of this, Christie’s said the market “currently finds itself in a downward trend of open rooms, as more and more hoteliers are struggling to operate during the low season”.
Christie and Co said: “The decision to operate in the current environment is a balancing act between levels of demand and available supply in the market – too many rooms open, and occupancy will fall below the breakeven point; remain closed and lose out on the opportunity to act quickly to capture whatever demand is still available and be ready when the demand picks up again.
“Despite reduced confidence within the market due to the current lockdown, the ongoing vaccination rollout is sure to improve sentiment leading into the Spring and we expect to see more reopenings again as restrictions ease. We will continue to monitor the reopening trends in the coming months as hoteliers continue to navigate the current environment.”