Covid-19, and the Hospitality Industry - Paul Bury
The Lothersdale Hotel has been owned by the my family for 67 years and has seen the town and industry change many times over. The COVID-19 pandemic though has presented a set of challenges to the Hospitality Industry never seen before. We employ over 30 fantastic people in our business and have to take the difficult decision to place the majority of them on furlough, I am thankful for the Government support for them so that they have an income whilst we’re on reduced working and can return to us when the restrictions are lifted.
With restrictions placed on businesses within the Day and Evening Food & Drink economy, most have closed and those that are able to open are doing so within tight Government guidelines yet are still struggling to cover costs each week.
We are one of those businesses that have been able to stay open, operating the Hotel for Key workers and, working with various local authorities and the Governments Crown Estates, as a safe place provider for the most vulnerable in society. It’s not straight forward to continue operating in these challenging times, our daily routine now includes having to speak to multi Government agencies on an almost daily basis as well as keeping our own furloughed team informed on the latest updates and advice from Government.
The area has a vibrant small Hotel sector, the majority of which are owner occupied and operated. Their income relies on their doors being open and letting bedrooms, whilst there are, like ourselves, those who have stayed open to accommodate the key workers, a big number have had to close.
In terms of business, most who are still open have reported a drop in trade by as much as 85%, this at a time when the majority would be looking forward to starting to turn a profit to offset the loss making winter months. Like most coastal towns, the seasonal business model is reliant on the visiting tourists to keep the bedrooms filled and the cash register turning over.
We have been able to diversify our restaurant business to offer a take away service, our Afternoon Tea’s have proved exceptionally popular and provide those who are staying at home with a little luxury to look forward to.
The period that concerns me those most though, is the upcoming winter. Most coastal town hospitality businesses rely heavily on the summer season to earn a profit to cover the large losses during the winter period. With no sign of the profits this summer, winter 2020/2021 is going to be a very tough time for many, especially with Banks failing to support their customers, lending decisions divested from local managers and no appetite to support the Hospitality sector through these challenging times. You can help your local business though, I would encourage everyone to shop, drink, eat at your local independent business, their income firmly stays in the area unlike the large corporates who syphon the income out of the area