AHC Regional Roundtable: Scotland

19 September 2019

The final stop on #AHCRegionalSeries of Roundtables was sunny Glasgow to hear from hoteliers, developers, lenders, investment agencies, marketers, technologists, designers and advisors working across the Scottish hospitality industry.
Following a trading and performance analysis from HotStats to frame the meeting, the conversation naturally moved on to concerns as to whether the sector can absorb the increase in supply. We heard that “the number of rooms that opened in Glasgow in 2018 was more than the total in the last three years” and, as noted at the equivalent event in Ireland earlier this year, there was an “inequality in tourism development” between the major cities, in this instance Glasgow and Edinburgh, versus the rest of the region. There are reasons to be cheerful though as intelligent planning through the development of mixed-use schemes as well as proactive marketing of the region to attract events, concerts and conventions takes place. Examples include the highly successful SSE Hydro building and the news that Glasgow is to host the UN Climate Change Summit in 2020.
Hotel development and ownership by local authorities was raised – a highly trending topic – with opinions mixed as to whether this was beneficial for the sector. Local authorities typically hold assets for longer periods and are more likely to take a wider view, considering the job creation opportunities for the community for example, and with many projects unlikely to be considered for more traditional funding, local authority ownership means a new lease of life for some properties. However, there was concern as to how vested local authorities will be in these projects with no equity commitment if we are indeed heading towards the bottom of the cycle. It’s clear this story is still being written and the debate continues during a panel session on this topic at The AHC next month.
The perennial OTA discussion featured with several contributors urging hotels to learn from the OTAs and “invest intelligently in your marketing spend”. It’s clear the OTAs still have a place with one hotelier saying without them her first operation “wouldn’t have happened as she didn’t have a brand”. Conversely OYO said “90% of bookings In China are made directly over the phone” so cultural variations clearly exist, and this reflects the importance of understanding your guests and their preferred marketing channels. It also required agility to be able to respond when these preferences change with shifting trends.
We were kindly hosted by the Radisson Red Glasgow which successfully combines urban style, modern comforts, a love for the arts and a truly warm Scottish welcome.

Watch the highlights above.