Occupancy decline at end of 2017 highlighted tough Q4 for UK hotels


Hotels in over half the 12 cities surveyed in the latest Hotel Bulletin, published this week by HVS, AlixPartners, STR and AM:PM, recorded declining occupancy in Q4 2017, with the other half reporting limited growth.

The results demonstrate the tough trading conditions hotels faced at the end of 2017, with four cities showing a decline in RevPAR and only hotels in Belfast recording double digit growth.

“Belfast has been in the top three cities for growth every quarter in 2017, boosted by the weak pound which has improved visitor numbers and the fact the hotel market is relatively small with just 4,000 rooms,” commented HVS chairman Russell Kett.

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“Overall Q4 was a tough one for UK hotels, not helped by the high comparables of the year before.”

Edinburgh was the second best performing city in Q4 2017 with 7% RevPAR growth, while hotels in Cardiff showed a 2% increase, despite a small decline in occupancy.

Following five consecutive quarters of RevPAR growth, London’s hotels recorded a 1% decline in Q4 2017 as the pound started to strengthen against the euro and the US dollar resulting in tourists getting less value for money.

Bath recorded the worst RevPAR in the survey, with a 4% fall, the city’s second quarter of decline. However, this was against strong 2016 comparables, when RevPAR grew by 13%. Aberdeen showed its 12th consecutive quarter of falling RevPAR at 3%, although the decline has slowed somewhat. As oil prices begin to recover the city’s hoteliers can expect corporate demand to pick up.

Over the longer term, performance across UK hotels has steadily improved. Annual occupancy in London’s hotels has remained at around 82% over the past five years, with average room rates rising from £136 to £146 and RevPAR growing 9%, from £113 to £122.

In regional hotels performance has also been strong over the past five years. Occupancy has grown from 75% to 77% and average room rates have climbed from £67 to £78. RevPAR growth has outstripped inflation (9%) since 2013, showing a 21% growth from £50 to £61, 31% growth excluding Aberdeen.

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Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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