How International travel will impact independent hotels & B&Bs in 2022

Expert insight from former Institute of Hospitality CEO Peter Ducker and member of P&G Professional's Expert Advisory Council

The UK hotel sector is on the gradual road to recovery from the pandemic, but it will be a long and slow road. While signs of recovery are beginning to emerge, it is a complicated picture, with significant differences in regions, and real variations in the speed of recovery of different market sectors. In addition, as Omicron continues to take hold up and down the country, we are once again reminded of the fragility of our industry's recovery efforts under the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most of us recognise that the measures taken by the Government to support businesses during the pandemic have been vital lifelines - furlough, business rate relief and VAT holidays have all played a part. Once these measures came to an end, it was only a matter of time before unavoidable base costs began to increase. Additionally, hospitality - like every other sector and every household - has been dealing with the sharp rise in energy costs.

Looking forward, everyone will acknowledge that the most important positive factor will be the return of international travel, alongside a return of both business travel and the meetings and events sector, although as new variants such as Omicron continue to emerge, those markets remain severely challenged.

In the short term your challenge is rebuilding your business, chasing occupancy then rate, managing your business sectors to maximise your yield. Long term, your biggest existential challenge will be the staffing shortage - before long it will be harder to attract staff than customers.

Recruiting staff and winning clients have become similar exercises. Both depend on gaining a competitive edge in challenging markets. Apply the same analysis to salary levels as you do to tariff pricing. What do you bundle into your guest marketing to win your share, and what do you bundle into your employment packages. You apply dynamic pricing to your sales process - has the time come for “surge pricing” to attract staff to work the unpopular shifts? It's certainly food for thought.

One thing is for certain: both guests and staff will think about their safety before stepping through your door. They must both be confident that yours is a hygienically clean, fresh-smelling environment. In bygone days your cleaning schedules were designed to be invisible to guests - now they need to be transparent; you want to be seen to be clean. P&G Professional, the away-from-home division of Procter & Gamble, provides an array of brands including Flash Professional and Fairy Professional that achieve an excellent standard of cleaning upon first clean. Using these recognised and trusted brands will help businesses thrive in the year to come by creating that assurance that customers are currently seeking.

What's more, hotels, guest houses and B&Bs can now display a CleanPLUS Experience sticker both in their premises and in their digital marketing. It's as important as your food hygiene rating.

To find out more about the CleanPLUS Experience - from P&G Professional's trusted household name brands Fairy Professional, Flash Professional and Ariel Professional - including applying for complementary materials and signage, call 0800 716 854 or visit