Continued growth for UK hotels as Glasgow's record-breaking run continues

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

December was the seventh consecutive month of record-breaking occupancy rates for Glasgow’s hotels
December was the seventh consecutive month of record-breaking occupancy rates for Glasgow’s hotels
UK hotels ‘continued their upward trajectory’ last month, ending 2013 on a high. But those in Glasgow once again stole the show, recording their strongest December of all time. 

According to preliminary figures released today by business advisory firm BDO, room yield in London and the regions rose by 5.9 and 9.9 per cent respectively.

In the capital, a room yield of £95.44 was driven by a 5.5 per cent improvement in room rate from £118.79 to £125.31; and a 0.4 per cent rise in occupancy to 76.2 per cent.

And a £35.56 room yield in the regions (compared with £32.35 in December 2012) was the result of a 4.7 per cent rise in room rate, from £53.99 to £56.54; combined with a 5 per cent improvement in occupancy to 62.9 per cent.

“This is strong and encouraging set of results with which to end the year,” said Robert Barnard, a partner at BDO. “Growth in the regions seems to be leading the sector out of recession, ending the year in positive territory in terms of room yield and only marginally down on average room rate.

“This is the first year since 2005 where the regions have led the charge over the year as a whole and it will be very interesting to see if this trend is continued in 2014.

“London also enjoyed a strong end to the year despite the difficult start when the City was managing the oversupply hangover from the Olympics. Although the strong second half of the year didn’t quite make up the lost ground, improved sentiment surrounding the economy and a strengthening corporate market bodes well for 2014.”

Record-breaking occupancy 

Separate figures also released today by tourism market research specialists LJ Research reveal that it was Glasgow that led the pack, with occupancy in the Scottish city averaging 71 per cent last month - the highest levels for December since record-keeping began in 1999.

On six separate nights last month, occupancy reached 90 per cent or greater, peaking at 97 per cent on 7 December. It follows a similar report last month which revealed hotels in Glasgow recorded their strongest November for seven years.

Sean Morgan, managing director at LJ Research, said: “The newly opened SSE Hydro is proving to be a significant driver of leisure tourism volume in Glasgow as October through December saw unprecedented levels of demand for hotel accommodation in the city.

“Looking ahead, our forward bookings analysis shows that hotel demand for 2014 is also extremely buoyant, with hotels consistently registering more business on their books throughout the year than in the previous two years.”

Hospitable city

It may not boast a famous castle or a major Parliamentary building like its more easterly-situated sister and international tourist hotspot Edinburgh, but Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) says this report demonstrates continued leisure tourism growth in the city against a backdrop of increasing accommodation supply.

GCMB’s chief executive Scott Taylor said: “Glasgow’s appeal is year-round – unlike many cities, we’re no longer a seasonal destination with periods of down time.

“December is traditionally the weakest month for European cities, but Glasgow is bucking that trend. Our hotel sector has enjoyed seven consecutive months of growth with some of the highest occupancy rates since records began – we’re now up there as one of the world’s must-visit destinations and hosting the Commonwealth Games and MTV European Music Awards later in the year will only add to that demand.

“Average room rates dropped slightly in December as conferences were bunched into the previous three months, resulting in fewer business visitors. However, hoteliers saw the opportunity to capitalise on major events and the city’s festive marketing driving growth in the short-term tourism market, demonstrating that it’s better to be busy than empty.”  

Philip Mellor, general manager of Menzies Hotel and co-chair of the Greater Glasgow Hotels Association, added: “We are seeing the significant investment that has taken place in Glasgow over the past 10-15 years, coupled with the city’s growing reputation a host city for major events and international conferences, reflected in the strength of our hotel industry, and the wider tourism sector, today.

“This is welcome news for Glasgow’s hoteliers, especially as we enter the biggest year in the city’s history, and will give continued confidence to those breaking ground on new developments or with developments in the pipeline.”

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