New survey reveals significant changes in the market and the hierarchy of hotel brands in Britain.

By Tim Sander

Across the UK, the short-break market performed excellently off the back of an eventful summer, but the same could not be said for the business and residential conference market which contracted by 5 million room nights. The annual British Hotel Guest Survey from BDRC demonstrated that major changes are taking place across the industry, from hotel guest behaviour to the hierarchy of hotel brands.

Overall, the study indicated that the combined effect of the strong domestic leisure and weaker business market led to a contraction in total domestic room nights to 106 million.

The study highlighted the growing importance of mobile technology and social media for interaction between guests and hotels: 1 in 5 British business travellers now used social media when researching hotel choices. Mobile technology was a major issue to customers, with business guests declaring free Wi-Fi availability their top service priority. Four fifths of business guests are connected to the internet by their mobile devices and to social media, an important area for continued development within the hotel industry.

The study also investigated the changing brand hierarchy within the sector. Although Hilton retained its position at the top for brand performance, Premier Inn continued to close the gap and took second place. Significant increases in consumer awareness earned Mercure the ‘Most Improved Brand’ award while InterContinental and Hyatt were the brands most likely to be recommended by business and leisure guests respectively.

Consumer behaviour and market structure are changing, and fluctuations in brand performance make it as important as ever for business leaders to understand the current and future state of the market and to listen to consumers when making strategic decisions. Taking on board new technology and adapting to an increasing number of internet and social media connected customers could be a particularly effective direction for a brand to take.

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