Chances of Manchester’s hotel and hospitality industries bouncing back completely following the relaxing of lockdown restrictions are ‘limited’, according to the chair of the Manchester Hoteliers’ Association (MHA).
Adrian Ellis, who has been in the post for 5 years, believes ‘initial progress will be slow and gradual, forming a ‘U-shaped’ recovery’. It is a sentiment echoed by other leading hoteliers across the city, who are predicting a return of leisure business in the first phase, but a ‘slow and cautious’ return for business conferences and corporate stays in 2020.
The chair – who is also the general manager of the 5* Lowry Hotel – forecasts that the sector is more likely to return to form in the new year, with international business coming through last and possibly not for another 12 months – as apprehensions around air travel continue.
“Hoteliers will need to think seriously about procedures for cleanliness, social distancing and automation. Guest expectations will be very different once business starts to return, and hoteliers will need to be mindful of this when re-opening,” said Adrian.
“Events businesses will also need to be carefully managed with banqueting and conferencing, ensuring that there is sufficient spacing between tables and delegates to meet with expectations of conference organisers. These measures will have a direct impact on revenues, as the lower numbers catered for will impact overall revenues for hotel and hospitality businesses.”
He added: “How we resource this will also need consideration, as there is a strong possibility that with reduced revenues, hoteliers will need less staff which may lead to many being left without work. If furloughing does not continue even in a staggered format, this is likely to lead to extensive downsizing and possible redundancies across the industry.
“Throughout the industry in Manchester, there is still an element of caution and concern. Although there is hope and promise that leisure demand could come back, the requirements will now be completely different.”
Adrian has also served as chair of hoteliers’ associations in major European and Asian cities, and recently spearheaded a campaign encouraging hotels across Manchester to provide care packages to the NHS. The initiative saw NHS frontline staff and vulnerable members of the community receive leftover produce from hotels throughout the region, including food and soft drinks.
The MHA has a 50-strong membership made up of general managers of hotels throughout the region. Its key objectives are being a strong voice for the hotel community, and continually improving the offering for visitors spending time in the city.
He concluded: “It’s vital that hoteliers provide a leaner more efficient operation that considers the new expectations of our guests as business starts to return.”