TripAdvisor today released the findings of the 2018 Hospitality Sector Report looking at the pressing issues, challenges and opportunities currently facing the hospitality industry globally and within the UK.
The Hospitality Sector Report is based on a survey of 2,395 hospitality business owners listed on TripAdvisor across the US and Europe, including over 300 business owners in the UK, conducted by independent research firm Ipsos on behalf of TripAdvisor,. The survey explored business owners’ perspectives on what local and global factors have the biggest impact on their business, as well as key areas of investment and focus for 2018 and beyond.
Across Europe, economic conditions continue to be a concern for hospitality businesses, with 43% of all businesses surveyed suggesting they see global economic conditions having a negative impact on their business. In the UK, this is higher, at 48%.
Brexit: pros and cons
Amongst UK hospitality business owners, Brexit continues to be a divisive issue – over a third (36%) believe there will be negative implications to their customers as a result of Brexit, while one in five (18%) expect there will be a positive impact on customers. The latter group may be anticipating a positive effect as more of British holidaymakers look likely to opt for domestic holidays following the UK’s departure from the EU. This echoes the findings of a recent study, ‘Sizing the Worldwide Travel Economy’, conducted by Oxford Economics in partnership with TripAdvisor, which showed that the domestic market now accounts for 82% of UK tourism spend.
The employment implications of Brexit present more pressing concerns for many businesses, especially in the restaurant sector, with almost half (40%) of UK restaurant owners anticipating staffing issues in the near future, and just 4% seeing a potential positive impact of Brexit in this regard.
By comparison, accommodation owners in the UK are slightly more optimistic about the employment implications of Brexit (20% anticipate staffing issues), but this is largely due to the proliferation of smaller, independent accommodation owners (83%) among the respondents. When considering larger businesses, two thirds of the 24 medium or large hotel chains surveyed have concerns about employment (67%) following the UK’s departure from the EU.
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality said: “The TripAdvisor Hospitality Report confirms the perceived challenges that hospitality and tourism businesses believe they will face post-Brexit. I’m confident that the detailed conversations we have had – and continue to have – with Government, will ease those challenges. Hospitality employs over 10% of the total number of EU workers currently living in the UK and one in five EU workers are currently employed in the food and drink supply chain. They make an enormous contribution to our industry and to the wider UK economy, providing valuable skills that enhance our businesses and customer experiences.”
Focus for the future
As well as revealing their biggest concerns for their business in 2018, the report also reveals the key areas of focus for hospitality professionals over the next couple of years.
Forty-one percent of UK business owners are investing in customer service, which puts them above the rest of Europe at 38%. In the UK, ninety percent (90%) of accommodation businesses said they are focusing on online booking in 2018, with online reputation and reviews being seen as important for more than nine in 10 accommodation owners.
In the restaurant sector, nearly two thirds of UK restaurant owners (60%) are focusing on online reservations in 2018, with over three-quarters (77%) working on optimising their mobile presence as more and more diners are looking for restaurants while out and about.
“The Hospitality Sector Report shows that whatever concerns they may have about the impact of external factors such as the economy and Brexit, hospitality businesses in the UK are investing heavily in their online presence and reputation,” said Sally Davey, TripAdvisor Global Director of Industry Relations. “77% of the hospitality professionals we surveyed said that they are focusing on working with the right online marketing services this year, showing the importance of having a solid online presence for a successful business.”