NW tourism on the up, but companies need to get online

19 May 2015

North West hospitality businesses are reporting increased profits, but an inability to take online bookings is holding some businesses back, according to a survey.

The latest MHA Travel & Tourism Survey, conducted in partnership with Lancashire accountancy firm Moore and Smalley, indicates that 26% of operators in the hotel and bed and breakfast sector are still unable to take online bookings.

This is despite the fact that 50% of respondents to the annual survey report a year-on-year increase in online bookings and the fact that there has been a 16% increase in the ability to take online bookings direct. 

“This growth in direct transactions is good to see, especially as online booking agents have been increasingly dominating the UK hotel and bed and breakfast sector,” said Judith Dugdale, head of the leisure and tourism team at Moore and Smalley. “This trend should lead to a greater online presence and more competitive offerings.”

The survey was conducted by MHA, the UK-wide association of chartered accountants and business advisors, of which Moore and Smalley is the North West member.

The results for 2015 point strongly towards growing business confidence and are encouraging for the development of the hospitality industry. Indeed, 64% of respondents reported an increase in profits over the past 12 months, representing a rising trend in domestic trading conditions, with 59% saying that they expect to see an increase over the next 12 months.

One third (33%) of respondents to the survey still employ workers on zero hours contracts, only slightly lower than the 37% recorded last year. The amount of zero hour contract staff who are working more than 21 hours has halved since last year to 34%.

Judith said: “These findings are concerning and suggest that hospitality workers on zero hours contracts are suffering through reduced paid hours.”

The percentage of companies who have green policies in place has dropped to 65%, down from 82% last year and over 41% remain unaware that tax reliefs are available for introduction of such policies.

This decrease in those with green policies suggests increased financial pressure and yet at the same time there appears to be a distinct lack of awareness of the tax reliefs available, which suggests that more publicity is needed to encourage eco-friendly investment.

A wider lack of investment reflects the position in the economy as a whole with continued difficulties in raising traditional bank finance, although there are some signs of this position easing.

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