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More than half of HBAA members feeling impact of Brexit

More than half of hotels and conference venues have seen a noticeable impact from Brexit, say HBAA members

Just over half (52 per cent) of HBAA members say Brexit has had a noticeable impact on their businesses.

And 7 per cent of hotels, conference venues and booking agencies surveyed say it has had a major effect.

HBAA carried out the survey in the run up to the first anniversary of the EU referendum next month.

The survey also found that 20 per cent of members felt that Brexit had had an impact on their ability to recruit staff, while 80 per cent said that it had not had any effect.

Observations from members reveal a range of different issues and both positive and negative results.

Diane Waldron of the QEII Centre said: “We have seen an increase in enquiries from international clients as London has become a more affordable destination for their events.”

LaiHa Diamond from the Kingsway Hall Hotel reported an increase in business from the USA, as did Jonathan Byrne of the Royal Foundation of St Katherine, attributing extra business from Europe to the weakness of the pound.

Hotel and venue members outside London did not report such benefits from the exchange rate, with several saying it had increased the costs of imported food and beverages.

Penny Banyard of First Choice Conferences & Events reflected the views of many members by saying “Clients are much more cautious.”

Recruitment was an issue for many members.

Sally Raith-Riches of Foxhills Country Club & Resort said: “If we can’t recruit from Europe across our food and beverage departments this will have a severe impact. But until this is confirmed we will continue with business as usual.”

Rajesh Vohra of Sarova Hotels said: “Recruitment was a problem area before Brexit, but now it is a major issue, and it is getting materially worse by the day.” 

Philip Allsopp of Lea Marston Hotels said recruitment had been difficult for many years and that the Brexit debate was masking the problem. “We need to look at more creative ways to engage people to want to work in our industry,” he said.

However, despite concern about the issue, only 12 per cent of members expected to change their recruitment policy in the near future.

Mark Jones of Wyboston Lakes said: “While we have not experienced any notable changes to date, we expect recruitment to become tougher as we end 2018 and enter 2019.   At that time we do expect that recruitment policies will have to change and anticipate that if we are to continue attracting sufficient talent from the UK and worldwide, we will have to provide accommodation to facilitate this.”

Louise Goalen, HBAA chair and MD of Bela Events, said: “We all have our own different experiences and opinions about the impact of Brexit so it is valuable to have an industry wide snapshot with which to benchmark them and to provide an overall view. It is early days and the variety of impact even seems to vary regionally. It will be very interesting to ask again them a year and two years from now.”

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