David Orr, Chief Executive of City Inn hotels says he is confident the group will be able to ride out the economic slowdown and is positive about the future of the business.
Speaking from the construction site of the group’s latest project in Leeds, Orr said the group, which has sites in many of the UK’s major cities, had not yet seen its business customers deflect to budget hotels despite their conflicting reports.
“Some of the budget hotels are very good products and clearly in the industry there are a lot of very good operators,” he said. “I think some businesses will decide that budget accommodation is acceptable for their employees, but having said that what we offer are full facilities.
“People aren’t going to stop having meetings and conferences and they still want good quality restaurants on-site. It’s not just about different price-points.”
He added: “The important thing is we are not a short-term economic cycle business. Our business model evolved out of the back end of the last recession so it was in our minds when we wrote the plan back in 1995.”
Innovation and technology are what set the company apart from its competitors, according to Orr. I-mac computers provide the entertainment hub in every bedroom and free video conferencing is offered to those holding meetings, but the group is equally keen to appeal to leisure customers.
“An awful lot of what we do applies to everybody, we don’t differentiate between business and leisure,” Orr said. “It so happens that what we do appeals to business people, but we also equally offer facilities for people on cultural weekends away.”
Orr is now awaiting the final construction of the 330-bedroom hotel in Leeds, due to be completed next summer. City Inn’s first hotel outside the UK will open in Amsterdam in 2010 before the company’s second London hotel opens near the Tower of London.
Plans to build more hotels are always in the pipeline, admitted Orr, but they are dependent on finding the right location.
“It takes quite a long time to find the right sites. They are all new builds and in approach is to make sure that we have got the right city centre location.
“Ideally we’d like to create a special flagship hotel in Edinburgh, but we haven’t found the right site yet."
City Inn currently has hotels in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester.