Putting quality into hospitality

The article by Branwell Johnson on the UK hotel industry (MW May 16) and its efforts to reverse the decline in occupancy levels is totally wide of the mark in focussing on marketing.

Sure, marketing has a part to play in the sense that it drives a proposition and is responsible for building brands.

But before you can talk about issues such as marketing, advertising campaigns or branding, you have to have a decent product that is sold at a reasonable price, so that once people visit you they want to come back of their own accord.

Whether they like it or not, UK hotels have a massive product problem, and are ridiculously overpriced, as virtually anyone who travels across European capitals will tell you. All the work we have done with German tourists – Germany is Britain’s number two tourist market after the US – who have visited Britain recently reveal they are totally disillusioned with UK hotels, and regard them as overpriced and poor quality. Would they go back? No, not unless they have to. And they tell their friends not to bother with London and the UK as a holiday destination until things improve.

Until the UK hotel industry comes to terms with its product/ price equation, it will continue to suffer. Trying to sell rooms that are often extremely small, shabbily furnished, have tiny bathrooms with showers that don’t tend to work well isn’t a good idea. And who in all honesty needs a Corby Trouser press or, for that matter, a full English breakfast?

Edward Appleton

Managing director


London, WC1


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