Having lived in Scotland and Edinburgh for the last 10 years, I have experienced a lot of changes within the hotel and hospitality market. For the last four years I have worked at Apex Hotels (www.apexhotels.co.uk), an Edinburgh based UK hotel group, with four hotels in the city at Haymarket, Grassmarket and Waterloo Place. During my time at Apex I have seen a tremendous growth in the competition amongst hotels for business tourism and to a larger extent in leisure tourism particularly in the three and four star markets.
An opportunity for growth
Edinburgh Hotels have been reaping the rewards of high occupancy, not only during the Summer festivals, but also throughout the year with an increasing number of other year round events, conferences and conventions. With growing popularity in events such as the Royal Military Tattoo and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay the city has seen a huge demand in these particular peak periods for hotel and serviced apartment accommodation. This situation has provided a perfect opportunity for many larger hotel groups to move into the Edinburgh market and over the past 5 to 10 years, Edinburgh has seen a large increase in serviced rooms opening up across the city.
This rapid growth has enabled Edinburgh to satisfy demand during the busy summer months, however the increased competition has also led to a more challenging time over the winter months. Hotels find it more difficult to fill their properties and there is a danger that the market could reach saturation point. The situation does have its benefits with plenty of availability leading to great deals for travellers coming to Edinburgh.
What is the impact on Business Tourism?
Whilst Edinburgh and Scotland’s tourism industry is booming during the summer months with high volumes of visitors, there is an obvious impact for the business and conference traveller. With availability of rooms in short supply, it can prove to be challenging for business travellers and meeting organisers wishing to travel and stay in Edinburgh during the summer months.
How does the future look?
Back in 2006 there was approximately 6,500 serviced bedrooms available in Edinburgh and in 2012, this had increased to 13,000 rooms. In January 2015 the figure stood at approximately 15,000 hotels and serviced apartment rooms and this is due to increase by several thousand over the next few years to accommodate the increasing amount of visitors to the city.
Along with many new ‘budget’ hotel brands such as the Tune, Motel One, Ibis and Travelodge, Edinburgh will in the years to come see a ‘new’ style of hotel open in the city centre. The old Royal High School, a listed building, at the east end of the city centre will be converted into an Art Hotel, mainly serving the ‘super rich’ from around the globe who wish to visit and explore both Edinburgh and Scotland. In addition to these, there are many other hotels being planned and built, which will continue to increase the competition for the existing bedroom supply within the city.
It will be interesting to see how the hospitality sector copes with the rise in both hotels and serviced apartments and we hope the Edinburgh Hotel market doesn’t reach saturation point!
Kim Kjaerside is Sales Manager for Apex Hotels.