Rural hospitality venues are being impacted by the ongoing fuel crisis, with visitor numbers falling and staff unable to get into work, despite continued reassurances from the government that there are sufficient supplies to meet demand.
The effect on the rural hospitality businesses in particular is yet another blow to the industry, who are still trying to get back on their feet following the pandemic. The shortage of fuel forms a cycle of loss for hospitality businesses with customers becoming cautious and cancelling reservations due to the fear of running out or no fuel altogether. Staffing issues are also prevalent, with key members of staff not having alternative transportation to reach workplaces and deliveries required to fulfill food and beverage offerings.
Rural businesses are being even harder hit than those in urban locations due to a greater reliance on cars and a lack of public transport.
David Toulson-Burke, Hospitality Consultant and Director of The Farmhouse at Fincham, based in a quiet village of West Norfolk says that visitor numbers have plummeted due to concerns over travelling to the remote location.
“Being located in a semi rural location we are a destination venue that requires visitors to drive to reach us’, explains David. ‘Since the panic buying situation started we have seen a significant fall in both leisure and corporate accommodation business which has resulted in a lack of take up of rooms and cancellation of existing bookings also.
When questioned, the guests have indicated that whilst their travel when at our location is minimal, there are concerns of a lack of fuel to make the initial journey to us and further concerns about getting back home, not knowing when the situation is going to ease or end.
We have offered carpooling services and daily updates on the situation which has sadly not made a difference and the accommodation sector remains to under deliver with a 70% drop in sales.”
Over in Cambridge, Fiona Sterne, Head of Sales and Marketing at the newly opened luxury complex Cambridge Country Club says that fuel shortages have resulted in key staff being unable to get into work.
“Members of our Wellness Concierge team have not been able to get into work as they were struggling to get fuel. They are regular members of staff, who we rely on at the front desk to welcome guests to the new facilities, so we’ve had to make emergency arrangements to cover the roles.
All staffing across the complex and particularly front of house roles are imperative to our ethos as a 5* health and wellness complex, and having opened so recently, we are keen to ensure that we continue to deliver the personalised, luxury experience that our customers expect. The fuel crisis is just another frustrating hurdle for us to overcome when we’ve just opened our doors for business.”
End of Season Visits
Co-Owner of Belle Aire Holiday Park, situated on the Norfolk coast in Hemsby, Sally Burrell, is concerned that ongoing petrol shortages will adversly impact their final few weeks of the season.
“Things are quietening down at Belle Aire as we are moving towards the close of the season. We are still experiencing heightened weekend trade from visitors to the coast, so we are hoping that the crisis will be resolved by the weekend.”
Most recent reports have confirmed the government has now stepped in and will utilise the armed forces to help with deliveries and distribute much needed fuel across the nation. With many petrol stations adopting a cash limit worth of fuel, it is hoped the crisis will soon resolve but what does this mean for the hospitality industry and the time it takes for people to become confident in supply of fuel and be able to acquire it.
“We eagerly await news of an end to the current situation in the hope that normal sales resume in the very near future,” adds David from The Farmhouse at Fincham.