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More than 25% of the UK hotel operators remain open to help NHS

According to a study by Hospitality Professionals Association (HOSPA) more than a quarter of the UK hotel operators will remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the primary aim is to help the NHS workers, 9% of hotel operators are offering shelter to the homeless, particularly bigger corporate hotel groups.

The study by HOSPA looks at how the sector is faring during the coronavirus crisis and questioned more than 60 industry leaders from the hospitality department, mostly members of the HOSPA; including larger corporate hotel groups as well as independent hotels or smaller restaurant chains.

The results suggested that, as well as relief work, only two-thirds of the hotels have laid off or furloughed more than 50% of their staff. Despite significant drops in revenue, the majority of hotels surveyed continue to work with 25% to 50% of their staff, on a daily basis.

Although the possibility of reopening is under consideration for all hoteliers, the study suggests that a quarter of the hotels from the bigger groups are assessing the situation on a daily basis; whereas half of the smaller chains, which are mostly closed right now, are making weekly assessments.

Despite the shutdown, most of the hotels surveyed still have some staff members on site, such as the security officials and maintenance staff. They have been appointed to ensure that the properties are kept in good condition, with proper maintenance, until the lockdown is eased by the government. 

Jane Pendlebury, CEO of HOSPA, said: “The coronavirus crisis has had a catastrophic effect on hotels’ income. Despite this, there are many hoteliers, who have continued to offer their services to those who are dealing with a crisis; namely NHS workers, other workers in essential services, the homeless and vulnerable. Such a strong sense of altruism in the industry shouldn’t be a surprise, given that the essence of hospitality is to look after others. However, the resilience and determination displayed by the sector during these times, deserves mention.”

The survey results revealed that May will be a critical month for hotels to decide whether to remain either open or closed, as more than half of the corporate groups and independent establishments are still assessing the situation, and trying to choose between placing more staff on furlough, to applying for loans.

According to a research study carried out by the UKHospitality this week, more than half of the government loans applied by businesses in the hospitality sector, have been turned down. Due to the high number of loan rejections, some hotels have been left with little alternative, other than, trying to generate income, through home delivery/takeaway model for their food and beverage services. 

Jane said: “For many hotels, remaining open in some capacity has been the only option to ensure, that they can bring in some amount of income. Takeaway/home delivery has been a much explored option due to feasibility. Though the margins of profit involved in that model is extremely limited. The rejection of government loans is particularly concerning. Hospitality businesses wouldn’t make any application lightly. Establishments might be struggling with payment issues, especially when revenues are going down and the pressure to reopen will start mounting within a couple of days.” 

Jane concluded: “Despite much gloom across the industry, the survey results have shown that most operators are certainly hanging on, if not thriving; and the admirable levels of enterprise, shown by many is commendable. Their resourcefulness and will to carry on gives us the confidence; that the industry will recover from this crisis; albeit in a much-changed hospitality landscape.”

The survey was conducted by Critiquie throughout April, which questioned HOSPA members.

For more information, visit www.hospa.org

Image Source: Neil Howard/Flickr

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